MUNICH, Germany Organic semiconductors promise to open up a new range of electronics and sensor applications, according to a polymer electronics developer.
Klaus Schröter, CEO of Nanoident Technologies AG, claimed it leads competitors
whom he said are still tinkering with with relatively unsophisticated ring oscillators for RFID devices. Nanoident (Linz, Austria) is building a production facility to make complex organic semiconductor photosensors.
Considerably lower production costs for polymer electronics compared to silicon is driving the polymer electronics market. Printing technology used to make polymer electronics components is relatively cheap, and polymer fabs take a far smaller bite out of a company’s investment budget than silicon fabs.
Schröter said Nanoident is spending in the low tens of millions of euros on its polymer electronics plant.
For now, Nanoident is confining manufacturing to photodiodes, but it has expertise in technologies ranging from design to process control to manufacturing.
The company has so far opted to sit out the current solar technology boom, despite the fact that its current CTO, Franz Pardinger, developed the world’s first plastic solar cell at the Linz Institute for Organic Solar Cells. Schröter said the strategy is based on the fact that "operational lifetimes of up to 30 years are specified for some solar energy products, and the question arises as to whether or not this is feasible. We’re interested in making products, not in doing basic research for components that take up to two-and-a-half years to bring to market."
Nanoident’s photodiodes have an operational lifetime of up to five years. "This is sufficient for most applications," Schröter said. "In fact, some applications require an operational lifetime of only a few seconds."
The photodiodes can be manufactured in pixel sizes ranging from 50-by-50 microns up to 50-by-50 cm. They are manufactured using inkjet technology in which semiconductor material is sprayed onto a substrate using an inkjet printer. A series of layers yields the semiconductor junctions, often in extremely precise thicknesses.
Nanoident claims layer-thickness accuracy down to 1 nanometer, but horizontal resolutions are much lower. Technologies that enable finer horizontal dimensions in the nanometer range are being evaluated, Schröter said.