Dr. Dominik Gronarz: Innovation “Made in Saxony” – Europe’s leading cluster for organic electronics

Organic Electronics Saxony (OES) is Europe’s leading innovation cluster for organic, flexible and printed electronics, which has been founded as an ­association by seven companies and three research institutes from the organic semiconductor industry on 6 October 2008.

OES sees itself as a technological communication platform and brings together leading Saxon and Central German stakeholders in this rapidly growing technology sector. The network fosters the targeted exchange of know-how from basic university research to material development, equipment, components and end products. With more than 30 members, who employ more than 2,000 staff (as of January 2015), OES ranks among the world’s leading clusters for organic, flexible and printed electronics, both from a technological and scientific perspective as well as in terms of covering the entire value chain and the number of medium-sized companies.

About organic electronics. Unlike traditional electronics, organic electronics is ultra-thin, extremely light, trans­­parent, flexible and features outstanding environmental credentials. It opens up completely new fields of ap­­pli­­cation, making it possible to fundamentally change the design and functionalities of well-known electronic devices. Organic electronics is already being used in com­­mercial applications, e.g. in form of OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) displays for smartphones and TVs, which offer superb, razor-sharp images. By using organic materials, manufacturers are working on making these applications foldable in the future. Another objective includes achieving the technological maturity required for mass production of other organic components such as photovoltaic cells, OLED lighting, sensors and batteries. In future, the focus will also shift to applications in automotive engineering, medical technology, security technology, aeronautics, health care, architecture as well as mobile applications.

National and international position of organic elec­tronics in Saxony. The three scientists Karl Leo from the Institut für Angewandte Photophysik at TU Dresden, Jan Blochowitz-Nimoth from Novaled and Martin Pfeiffer from Heliatek – who are also members of OES – received the highest scientific award in Germany for their excellent achievements in research and development. The Federal President awarded the German Future Prize for their work on “Organic Electronics – More Light and Energy from Wafer-thin Molecule Layers” in 2011. Furthermore, OES received commendation from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy within the “go-cluster” excellence promotion. OES also won the European Bronze Label for cluster management awarded by the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI).

In the flex+ project, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), OES developed an overall concept for flexible electronics in cooperation with the Fraunhofer institutes FEP and IAP. The goal of this project is to set up an organisational structure with an open innovation approach to tap into new applications and markets for flexible electronics.

Heliatek_PresseBilder_Fabrik_web-5396

In 2015, OES ranked among the winners of the BMBF initiative “Internationalization of leading-edge clusters, forward-looking projects and comparable networks”. The initiative aims at commercialising organic electronics in Germany. The technological know-how in Saxony is to be complemented in central points in cooperation with leading actors from Cambridge (UK) and Yonezawa (Japan). Cooperation with other industries such as automotive, aerospace, medical technology, safety technology and other sectors serves to achieve the technical maturity of the components and to secure long-term benefits for the German industry.

At European level, OES supports the transfer of knowledge and the commercialisation of organic electronics within the context of the EU projects COLAE and LightJumps. With the “EEInnovation” project submitted to the EU, OES plans to commercialise new electronic components – so-called “emerging electronic components” – together with 31 other European high-technology clusters.

Beacons within the OES network. As leading developer and manufacturer of glass-free, flexible electrophoretic displays (EPD), Plastic Logic Germany has managed to successfully industrialise the production process at its factory in Dresden. The company offers a comprehensive range of high-quality plastic displays, which have already proven successful on the market. These flexible displays that offer excellent readability in bright daylight are ultra-thin, extremely lightweight and highly energy-efficient. Thanks to their robustness and durability, they also offer outstanding advantages when compared to conventional displays.

Heliatek GmbH focuses on researching, developing and manufacturing flexible organic solar films. As the global technology leader in the field of organic photovoltaics (OPV), Heliatek holds the world record in cell efficiency with 12 per cent. The technology offers extremely cost-efficient and effective roll-to-roll production processes for large-scale modules on cost-efficient flexible substrates, while using well-defined non-polymer organic materials with high thermal and photochemical stability.

Baldauf&Baldauf_HeliaFilm

Novaled GmbH is a world leader in the field of OLED materials and technologies. The company specialises in highly efficient OLED structures with a long service life and provides manufacturers of organic electronics with a unique combination of organic materials and ex­­pertise. Novaled is currently the only company in the field of OLED that uses doping materials and technologies in the mass production of displays.

3D-Micromac AG is the leading expert in the laser micromachining. The company develops processes, machines and turnkey solutions at the highest technical and technological level.

CreaPhys GmbH offers extensive expertise in the fields of coating methods for the manufacture of organic thin films (including for organic light-emitting diodes and photovoltaic cells), organic optoelectronics (“plastics electronics”) and ultra-pure materials for future application in displays and photovoltaic systems.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP offers a broad range of research, development and prototyping opportunities, in particular in the area of surface treatment, sterilisation, structuring and finishing as well as for OLED micro displays, organic and inorganic sensors, optical filters and flexible OLED lighting.

The IAPP (Institut für Angewandte Photophysik) at TU Dresden has great expertise in the analysis of physical properties of organic molecules and their use in organic, optoelectronic components such as organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), organic photovoltaic cells and transistors. The fields of activity include synthesising suit­able materials and analysing their molecular properties, up to the preparation and electro-optical characterisation of the various components.

DrDr. Dominik Gronarz
The author has been managing director of the Organic Electronics Saxony network since its establishment in 2009. Prior to that, he worked at the IAAP (Institut für Angewandte Photophysik, TU Dresden) for Prof. Karl Leo and was respon­sible for coordinating several national and European research projects. Between 2000 and 2004, he worked as a founding and innovation coach at Dresden exists, a founding initiative of TU Dresden, where he supported spin-off companies from the university and the area surrounding Dresden.