Organic and Large Area Electronics (OLAE) is a relatively new class of electronics with huge market potential in four key application areas: displays; lighting; photovoltaics and integrated smart systems. More importantly, it is predicted that over the course of the next decade the market will have an annual value of several hundred billion Euros.
At the heart of the technology are new types of polymer materials, such as organic semi conductors and other low temperature processable materials. These materials once combined with innovative manufacturing techniques enable the production and development of many valuable and low cost applications.
While the technology is novel it is also able to be harnessed in many current applications, providing reduced cost and low energy manufacturing processes.
What are the applications
There are four major application areas: displays; lighting; photovoltaics and integrated smart systems. While OLAE technology is currently used in many manufacturing processes, new applications are entering the marketplace rapidly.
While organic light- emitting diodes (OLEDs) are already used commercially in displays of mobile devices and significant progress has been made in applying organic photovoltaic cells to light-weight flexible fabrics to generate low-cost solar energy, a brand new range of applications is possible such as biomedical implants and disposable biodegradable RFID packaging tags.
In addition, low cost organic solar cells have the potential to drive down the cost of photovoltaics to levels, which are not achievable with mono or poly-crystalline solar cells. Similarly, organic light emitting diodes will revolutionise current lighting applications, significantly reducing CO2 impact. Also, smart devices incorporating organic and printed circuits, sensors and energy sources will enable new approaches in logistics and consumer packaging, and new flexible displays with exceptionally low energy consumption will be used anywhere and anytime.
What are the possibilities?
The possibilities are limitless as the technology is evolving at such a rapid pace. Industrial designers across all sectors and markets should be aware of the technology and looking at ways of harnessing its power and benefits into new product design.
Possible applications could include:
- Memory or logic devices
- Detectors, lasers and light emitters
- Information displays – advertising billboards and other media
- Power or light sources
- Subsystem packaging
- Image patterning
- Electrical or optical fibres