The materials research taking place at the Swedish Research Laboratory for Printed Electronics involves development and design at the molecular level within, among others, organic bioelectronics, photonics, nano-optics, and nano-electronics. In our clean-room laboratory we are able to synthesise new chemical compounds, create functionality and characterise, gasify, dry, print, create, and work with new materials on a very small scale. Within the framework for Printed Electronics Arena we can then scale up and test the materials in an environment adjoined to production, from individual material tests to small-scale series production. We work with substances and elements such as PEDOT:PSS, copper, silver, carbon, and graphene, as well as some that don’t have names yet.
We receive requests from across the globe, both from leading universities and enormous multinational corporations seeking innovation, research partners or solutions to intricate problems.
Organic electronic materials differ from conventional electronic materials in that they conduct both electrons and ions, not only electrons. Another difference can be found in their chemical structure, which is closer to biological systems (proteins, polymers) than rigid inorganic metals and silicon. This enables organic electronic materials to be utilised in biological applications. One research area is directed towards creating “iontronics”, which can work with the biological cells and tissues of humans and animals. This can lead to advanced and self-regulating delivery mechanisms (see Ion Pump), dubbed artificial neurons, for neuro-modulation and detection. It can also involve applications in wound healing and pain alleviation, as well as electroactive surfaces for cells and tissues, and ultimately lead to complete logic circuits within the framework for bioelectrical systems.
Conductive and semi-conductive polymers also have fascinating optical properties which can be utilised in displays, light sources and solar cells. An example of research being conducted in this area are LEDs and OLEDs. The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Japanese researchers Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for their development of blue LEDs, which made energy-efficient, white light sources possible – their research forms the basis for all smartphones and flat panel displays existing today. We are also researching hybrid concepts that merge organic electronics with functional nano-optical systems, such as plasmonic metal nanostructures.
Another possibility is the creation of materials that have both electrical and chemical functionality. This can lead to new brand-new manufacturing methods for nano-electronics such as transistors, electrochemical systems, non-volatile ferroelectric memory, and solar cells.
Organic electronics can be cheap, flexible, transparent and lightweight. We are only limited by our imaginations when it comes to uses for organic electronics, and development has undergone a quantum leap since the phenomenon of conductive and semi-conductive polymers was first discovered and awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.