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6 February, 2014 - 11:12 By Tony Quested

Plastic Logic targets $10bn wearable electronics boom

Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Plastic Logic

Plastic Logic has teamed up with a Samsung subsidiary to target a wearable electronics segment worth $10 billion with new display technology.

The Cambridge UK plastronics pioneer is working with Novled, recently acquired by Samsung Cheil Industries, to develop a flexible, plastic, fully organic AMOLED display.

The companies demonstrated the technology for the first time today at the FlexTech Conference in Phoenix Arizona – the first of many planned demos throughout 2014.

The combination of the two companies’ technology has led to a fully industrialised manufacturing process for flexible AMOLED displays, putting both Novaled and Plastic Logic in prime position to take advantage of the coming boom in wearable electronics.

AMOLED displays is a market segment forecast to be worth over $10bn by 2020 (IHS 2013 report).

The dream of wearable display technology has been around for a long time but turning the vision to reality has demanded the correct set of electronics capabilities to enable compelling and practical solutions for lifestyle, communications and fitness applications.

The new demonstrator heralds a breakthrough by combining for the first time a functional all-plastic AMOLED display with an industrialised turnkey manufacturing process for the backplane electronics.

The partners say this marks the beginning of a new chapter for display makers searching for a path to ultra-flexible, ultra-thin, lightweight AMOLEDs, using a low temperature process which has a number of key industrial benefits, including superior uniformity, yield and hence ultimately a route to low cost solutions for volume manufacturing

Both companies bring critical technology to the demonstration. Novaled’s PINOLED® technology enables the use of non-standard electrode materials needed for the flexible AMOLED development.

Plastic Logic’s fully industrialised plastic, flexible Organic Thin Film Transistor (OTFT) backplane and know-how enabled the world’s first fully organic, flexible display. Such truly flexible AMOLEDs, and the increased usable screen areas they make possible, are set to power the next generation of products for the wearables market, poised to take off in 2014.

Through the OTFT industrialisation process Plastic Logic has created unique IP and a highly transferable process-flow. With an entire supply chain in place, OTFT manufacturing has now reached a tipping point in performance with leading organic semiconductor (OSC) materials suppliers, including Merck whose OSC material was used in the demonstration, now showing mobilities required to drive OLED displays.

The process is compatible with existing mainstream display manufacturing operations, underpinning a new technology licensing business model. Plastic Logic has already established a partner program to work with leading global display makers and consumer electronics companies to enable flexible, plastic AMOLED supply chains through licensing and technology transfer to mass volume producers.

Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Plastic Logic, acknowledged the scale and relevance of the breakthrough, saying: “Flexible electronics is a reality, already proven through the development and manufacture of plastic, bendable displays and sensors.

“For the first time a fully organic, plastic, flexible AMOLED demonstration has been achieved with a real industrial fabrication process. This marks the start of a revolution in wearable products, the next frontier in consumer electronics - 2014 will be the year that wearable technology starts to go mainstream.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Indro Mukerjee

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