UK-based collaboration works to develop graphene ultra-barrier materials

The Centre of Process Innovation (CPI) recently announced it was part of a UK-based collaboration with University of Cambridge, FlexEnable Ltd., and the National Physical Laboratory. The goal of the partnership was to develop ultra-barrier materials using graphene, to create flexible, transparent electronic-based plastic displays for smartphones, tablets, and wearable electronics. Manufacturers of these products require barriers with a greater degree of flexibility, which graphene can likely provide.

FlexEnable, the lead business partner, saw many uses for the graphene ultra-barrier materials.

Graphene-based barrier coatings and films could be used for flexible OLED lighting and LED encapsulants as well as display products, on a widespread commercial basis.

Using graphene interlayers, displays can be made very flexibly. The barrier materials will be transparent, robust, and impervious to various molecules that could cause damage. This represents a great increase in potential for the technology in various applications and industries, which use barrier coatings and films but require a greater degree of flexibility and strength.

At the time the collaboration was announced, James Johnstone, Business Development Manager at CPI, said, “The collaboration brings together world class supply chain expertise across the UK to bridge the gap from Graphene research to the manufacturing of commercial flexible display screens. The Hofmann group at the Department of Engineering in Cambridge is a key innovator in the growth and processing of graphene films. NPL are experts in the traceable measurement of water transfer characteristics and FlexEnable brings an industrial focus to the project with their extensive expertise in the manufacture of flexible electronics and flexible display screens in particular. CPI’s role in the project is to use roll-to-roll atomic layer deposition technologies to scale up, test and fabricate the ultra barrier materials.”

Also at the time the collaboration was announced, Chuck Milligan, CEO of FlexEnable added, “Graphene and other 2D materials are extremely relevant for the flexible electronics industry, with the potential for broad usage from conductors to semiconductors, insulators and even barriers. Building on FlexEnable’s previous leading-edge work with graphene, our involvement will enable the accelerated integration of these game-changing materials in a new generation of ultra-flexible end-user applications with innovative form factors.”

The partnership is hoping to bring their barrier coatings and materials onto the market for commercial use as soon as possible.

Infineon CEO Reinhard Ploss said autonomously driven cars will drive the demand for new semiconductors and sensors, during a keynote address at a SEMI Semicon Europa’s Fab Manager’s Forum in Germany.

According to Ploss, an automated car has to be able to recognize its surroundings, control speed and direction, and monitor the driver.

The automated car could also become connected, said Ploss.

“Many believe the autonomous driving car must be a connected car,” he said. “If we connect to the internet, we can gain more information, and even add capabilities to the car.”

For such a car to exist and be safe, according to Ploss, it must be surrounded by sensors including cameras, radar, and laser based radar. The more automated a car is, the more sensors it will require.

“The car will become a unit with a lot of sensors in order to recognize what is going on,” explained Ploss. “These signals have to be computed, so you also have a very high level of computing power in the car to process this data.”

While today’s cars already use semiconductor technology, more automated cars will call for more of that technology. A partially automated car would have about $100 extra in semiconductor content, said Ploss, adding to the $300 already existing, while a fully automated car would have about $550 more.

The semiconductor industry will have to approach this growing technology by continuing to innovate while attempting to reduce costs, so manufacturers of vehicles can access the semiconductors needed. Ploss believes connected manufacturing will assist in this, as data will help companies learn faster and manufacture without money wasting defects.

Many people in various industries from semiconductor to auto believe that autonomous, self-driven cars are the definite vehicle of the future. Because of this, it makes sense for everyone to prepare, through research and development and manufacturing upgrades.

From synthetic quartz wafers and substrates to ArF photoresist and new barrier coatings, there are many new technologies coming onto the scene, as well as improved technologies. The semiconductor industry has what it takes to jump into powering automated vehicles, especially with connected manufacturing and other similar industry developments.

As you see automated and semi-automated vehicles roll out onto the market, take a minute to think about all of the semiconductors required to keep these vehicles safely driving on the road, all on their own.

Glass is a flexible material that has a lot of excellent properties inherent within. A lot of research is being done in the area of glass coatings, as this material holds a lot of promise for various industrial and commercial applications. New findings in the field are showing just what glass coatings can do!

Glass coatings are popular in applications that require energy efficiency and low substrate temperatures.

In this vein, DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratories has created a superhydrophobic anti-reflective glass coating, which is modeled after a lotus leaf and a moth’s eye. The glass coating repels water and is self-cleaning, as well as anti-reflective. The glass coating is nanostructured, with a surface that is porous, made of a three dimensional network of glass with a high silica content.

This particular glass coating suppresses reflected light so it is ideal for solar panels, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. The coating is also resistant to abrasions, and thermally stable, as well as able to block UV light.

The glass coating developed by DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratories is being studied for solar uses, but could work equally well for 2D and 3D packaging material or barrier coatings. When you need barrier coatings or packaging material that is resistant to damage, naturally hydrophobic, and light suppressant, a coating like this could work well for your purposes.

In another exciting development, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab has developed paint made from glass. Unlike traditional pants that give off volatile organic compounds, this paint is environmentally friendly and will not degrade or yellow like paint that uses polymers.

On surfaces, this paint reflects sunlight off of metal surfaces, keeping them cool. The product was developed for naval ships but again, can be used in various applications from commercial to industrial.

There are many reasons why companies and industries would want to keep heat away, and an inorganic, stable paint that can do so is great for packaging and manufacturing.

These are just two examples of the great research being done in the field of glass coatings. As more and more industries and companies look to glass coatings to meet their 2D and 3D packaging needs, barrier coatings, and more, we will see greater research and innovation coming from this field. There is lots to learn about, share, and explore in the area of glass coatings.