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printed electronics

Organic and printed electronics are printing processes with which electronic components and circuits can be printed additively - i.e. layer on layer - on paper, foil or organic carrier materials. Printed electronics is a further development of silicon-basedmicroelectronics that can be used to produce lightweight, flexible, thin and robust electronic circuits at extremely low cost. The technology is suitable for mass production of circuits and circuit components.

Functional printing can be used to print thin electronic components, semiconductors, insulators and laminations on flexible plastic substrates. As for electronic components, diodes and transistors, resistors, capacitors, coils, batteries and sensors can be produced, as well as complete electronic circuits such as inverters, amplifiers, oscillators and rectifiers.

Silver ink and special printing inks with electrical properties

Production of polymer RFID tags with a printing machine, photo: PolyIC.

Production of polymer RFID tags with a printing machine, photo: PolyIC

The printed electronic circuits are printed from electrically active plastics. In this functional printing technique, silver in ks and special inks with electrical properties are printed in layers on top of each other to form the electronic circuits, with the individual layers as thin as those of conventional inks. The additive process usually requires fewer manufacturing steps than conventional semiconductor manufacturing, which is often large-scale and uses etching techniques to cut out certain areas. In addition, masks must be created for the different layers.

Structure of a printed battery

Structure of a printed battery

The printing inks used are polymers that have been dissolved in suitable solvents. The polymers can take on the electrical properties of conductors, non-conductors and semiconductors through targeted charge carrier injection. The inks endowed with electrical properties can then be printed with printing presses using gravure, letterpress, offset, flexographic or screen printing, or, like electronic inks, can also be created using inkjet printing.

Different printing processes for printed electronics

In gravure printing, tiny depressions are engraved in the printing cylinder and filled with the functional ink.

Ink-jet printing machine for printing organic electronics, photo: Fujifilm.

Ink-jet printing machine for printing organic electronics, photo: Fujifilm.

During printing, the ink is transferred from the tiny depressions to the plastic substrate. Offset printing is different, where the functional ink is transferred from the printing drum only in partial areas. In flexographic printing, which is a variant of letterpress printing, the functional ink is transferred to the substrate from a raised printing form. The above-mentioned and other printing processes are suitable for sheet or roll printing and thus for mass production of disposable mass-produced articles.

Individual electronic circuits can also be produced using inkjet printers. In inkjet printing, electrical ink is sprayed dropwise onto a flexible carrier film. This process, which is suitable for organic electronics, achieves resolutions of a few micrometers.

Flexible display from PlasticLogic

Flexible display from PlasticLogic

Printed electronics can be used for 3D printing of electronic components and circuits, for organic transistors and for flexible batteries, for extremely thin printed batteries, as well as for printed antennas, radio tags and packaging, organic solar cells, sensors, data storage devices, flexible keyboards and flexible displays, various smart objects for integrating ambient intelligence into textiles and unstructured light sources such as organic light emitting diodes(OLEDs) and OLED area emitters. There are also programmable memories, Read Only Memories( ROM), Write Once Read Many(WORM) and Programmable Read Only Memories( PROM), as well as rewritable Non-Volatile RAMs( NVRAM) in printed electronics.

The Organic Electronics Association( OE-A) is an advocacy group for polymer electronics and printed electronics.

Englisch: printed electronics
Updated at: 26.11.2021
#Words: 552
Links: electronics, layer, carrier, silicon (Si), arsenic (As)
Translations: DE

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