Awarded £246,846 which was 45% of project value
Plastic displays based on flexible printed electronics are predicted to revolutionise the performance, product differentiation and cost of novel device form factors. Whilst existing rigid screens can benefit from a step change in weight, thickness, ruggedness, power use and useable lifetime, displays that can be repeatedly bent, folded or rolled will be critical components in applications such as wearable devices. However, despite established frontplane technologies such as OLED showing the required flexibility and long-term performance for dynamically flexible displays (DFD), a corresponding fully flexible backplane technology to drive the display output is yet to be realised.
Existing material technologies lack either the fundamental flexibility or requisite electronic performance to realise DFD. Poor stability and restricted manufacturing scalability also prevents a robust supply chain for DFD with display resolution/size for applications, preventing the predicted market growth potential.
In response to this immediate materials requirement, NeuDrive have developed FlexOSTM – a proprietary organic semiconductor formulation based on soluble small molecules/high permittivity semiconductor binders – as well as a novel organic thin film transistor form factor and fabrication process. FlexOSTM has world-leading mobility, stability and uniformity performance validated for flexible display backplanes. A pilot-scale manufacturing process for FlexOSTM has been proven in a laboratory environment, in readiness to prepare the technology for production line compatibility and exploitation through OEMs.
NeuDrive sought Innovate UK support to accelerate development of an industrial process technology for economic manufacture of FlexOSTM organic thin film transistors. Underpinning a robust supply chain for DFD backplanes, NeuDrive’s project aims to realise a process technology that is fully compatible with OEM production line equipment and the proprietary passive materials to support immediate transfer to OEM production lines. Key outcomes targeted by the project, also aligned with delivering commercial readiness, are the industrial end-to-end process integration and scale-up of organic semiconductor material production.
TBAT worked closely with NeuDrive to gather technical and commercial information from the relevant staff, and respond effectively to any feedback throughout the process. Meetings in person and remotely were used as appropriate, as well as our own directed activities to actively find and review relevant information. By gaining a thorough understanding of the technology and NeuDrive’s overall strategy, we were able to structure a proposal that directly addressed the scope of the funding scheme and aligned precisely with the Client’s long term technical and commercial aspirations. As well as drafting and submitting the proposal and supporting documents, TBAT also assisted with developing the project planning aspects of the process.
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Outcome and Current Status
The grant application was enthusiastically supported by Innovate UK, who awarded NeuDrive the full grant amount requested. The project commenced in early 2016. As of July 2016 the project is on track to deliver the anticipated benefits to the business, with a first project signed with an Asian OEM looking to move into commercial production of flexible displays in 2017 and a pipeline of further opportunities being progressed. The technical project activities are proceeding to plan, with only minor adjustments across the 11 work packages being discussed and agreed with the project monitoring officer. The first quarter grant claim was and submitted, audited and processed through to payment without issue.