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1 July, 2013 - 10:33 By Tony Quested

Cambridge alliance targets multibillion markets

Plastic Logic CEO, Indro Mukerjee

A new Cambridge powerhouse has been forged to help the UK technology cluster cash in on multibillion dollar global markets created by the wonder material graphene.

Plastic Logic has joined forces with Cambridge University’s Graphene Centre in a groundbreaking alliance in one area in which the Koreans aren’t dominating.

The collaboration was announced exclusively to the world at the Nerve disruptive technology conference in Cambridge, run by Business Weekly and its sister social network for startups,

Plastic Logic CEO, Indro Mukerjee unveiled the initiative on stage at Nerve and painted an exciting picture for continued Cambridge progress in the graphene arena.

Mukerjee said the formal collaboration agreement marked Plastic Logic joining the Centre to start work on a specific research programme, aimed ultimately at revolutionising the commercial exploitation of graphene in flexible plastic electronics, where the UK enjoys a world-leading position.

Plastic Logic has donated large scale deposition equipment to the Centre to support the acceleration of manufacturing scale-up of developments on graphene.

The research programme will initially have three main project activities:- • To develop graphene as a transparent, highly conductive layer for plastic backplanes, used to drive unbreakable Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays; a market forecast to be worth $40bn by 2020 (IHS 2013). • To develop novel transistor structures with graphene-like materials as the active layer, delivering a step change over the device performance currently possible on plastic, while retaining the ultimate flexibility of the devices. • To leverage Plastic Logic’s expertise in the industrialisation and volume manufacture of electronics on plastic, exploiting the commercialisation of graphene for flexible electronics. This will include key high value segments in the developing new market for flexible plastic sensors, forecast to be worth $2.2bn overall in 2020 (IDTechEx 2011). Mukerjee told Nerve delegates: “I am delighted that Plastic Logic is working with the world class team at the Cambridge Graphene Centre on this transformational research programme for the application of graphene in our flexible plastic electronics process.

“This will enable higher levels of customisation and drive a step change in technology performance, opening up new commercial applications, such as the huge potential market for large area distributed sensors.”

Cambridge Graphene Centre’s director, Professor Andrea Ferrari, a fellow speaker at Nerve, added: “The mission of our centre is to investigate the science and technology of graphene, carbon allotropes, layered crystals and hybrid nanomaterials.

“This engineering innovation centre allows our partners to meet, and effectively establish joint industrial-academic activities to promote innovative and adventurous research with an emphasis on applications.

“We welcome Plastic Logic as one of our strategic partners. Graphene and related materials are ideally suited for applications in flexible electronics, and this strong synergy with a world-leading Cambridge-based company can accelerate exploitation.”

Plastic Logic also wowed Nerve delegates with demos of its technology over the three days of the inaugural event at the Corn Exchange and Guildhalls.

They included a standard flexible 10.7” 75ppi resolution colour and 150ppi resolution b&w electrophoretic (EPD) displays, showing sequences of images; product concept demonstrators for a colour watch, utilising a small flexible display for wearable applications; and the PL book, utilising two ultra-thin, highly flexible 10.7” displays (effective overall display size 15.4”) configured in a traditional book format.

Also on show was a 4X4 tiled display as an ultra-lightweight, extremely robust and low-power interactive digital signage demo. Various mechanical samples highlighted new technology developments, such as ultra-thin and transparent backplanes.

Cambridge technology entrepreneur and VC Dr Hermann Hauser, a speaker at Nerve, said the Plastic Logic collaboration with the University and the products on display showed that the cluster had a “fantastic opportunity to lead the world in an incredibly exciting area of business.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Plastic Logic CEO, Indro Mukerjee

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