MANHASSSET, N.Y. Materials science technology company Eikos Inc. (Franklin, Mass.) is ramping up production of its transparent carbon nanotube ink for conductive coatings and circuits as it seeks to capitalize on the need for higher performance commercial displays.
The privately-held, eight-year old company said in an interview with eeTimes Friday (Nov. 12) it expects to produce about 1,500 liters of ink by next April at its Franklin facility a ten-fold increase over current production levels. The increase will support an aggressive sampling and applications development program with makers of films and coating materials for displays seeking higher performance alternatives to indium-tin-oxide.
In addition, Eikos said it was seeking to establish an ink production facilty in Asia, most likely Japan or Singapore, to be closer to display materials makers there.
According to Eikos' president and chief executive Joseph Piche, display makers are looking to replace indium-tin-oxide because of the material's tendency to fracture and its relatively poor light transmission.
"Indium-tin-oxide is not flexible and fractures under pressure," Piche said. "Also, because indium-tin-oxide requires vacuum sputtering, manufacturing costs are higher."
On top of that, Piche added the indium, a by-product of zinc and lead, has risen dramatically in price over the past year.
Piche said that because Eikos' carbon nanotube ink has a neutral color, not yellow as with indium-tin-oxide, it can help improve display brightness and contrast. And because the ink can easily be printed on flexible plastic films, it holds promise for makers of flexible displays.
Because of non-disclosure agreements, Piche declined to specify many of its current projects and customers. He did, however, say Eikos was planning to work with Japanese supplier Toppan on coatings for color LCD filters, and has since January licensed its technology to Takiron Co. Ltd., a Japanese materials supplier affiliated with trading company Itochu Corp.
Eikos is also collaborating with Ethertouch (Labuan) Sdn Bhd, Labuan, Malaysia, on coatings for mobile phone lenses.
Eikos is presently funded through a combination of DoD (Dept. of Defense) contracts and investment capital. The company is seeking additional venture capital funding, Piche said.