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Organic electronic devices are based on the combination of new materials and cost effective large area production processes i.e. High volume deposition and pattering techniques similar to printing processes .This technology opens up many new fields of application where electronics can be used.
Organic printed electronics is a platform technology that is based on organic electrically active material as well as printable inorganic materials. This technology enables thin, lightweight, flexible and low-cost electronics which are more environmentally friendly to be produced; they offers greater reliability due to fewer interconnects and improved damage tolerance due to their flexibility. This technology allows for electronic components like transistors, diodes, sensors, displays, photovoltaic cells and batteries to be manufactured from flexible plastic. Applications like flexible solar cells, flexible displays and Radio frequency identification tags are the results.
Since the first organic electronic product in the form of a passive ID card reached the market in 2006; significant development has been made in organics electronics. The last few years have seen the first generation of products coming to market; examples being Organic Light emitting Diodes displays, electric books, printed electrodes for glucose test strips and printed light sources and antennae for automobile application. While no organic electronic product have achieved full mass market introduction the general consensus is that this is likely to happen within the next few years, (VDMA.org. 2011)It is a disruptive technology which has the potential to change the way electronics influence our society.
Organic Electronics has a number of ecological benefits compared to classical electronics in their use of environmentally friendly production processes and materials and also sustainable due the efficient use of materials, power efficiency of finished products and recyclability and disposal of finished products.
"Renewable energy has gone mainstream, accounting for the majority of capacity additions in power generation today(Fab, 2012). Wind, hydropower and solar photovoltaic capacity in the tens of gig watts are installed worldwide every year in a renewable energy market which is worth billions of Euros annually.EU projection for renewable energy puts solar energy producing over 50 % of the total world primary energy demand by 2100.( WBGU,2010) The potential of solar energy is almost unlimited and it can be harnessed sustainable; sustainability is now a key point in energy systems of the future. A promising new technology to harvest electricity from sunlight is organic photovoltaics.
Organic Photovoltaic's is a portable and renewable energy, it relies on organic molecules to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. A blend of a polymer that absorbs sunlight and converts the photons into DC current. Currently Organic photovoltaic have efficiency between 5& 6 % where inorganic cells have efficiencies of 12 to 20 %. Despite this low efficiency inorganic photovoltaic is evaluated as one of the futures key technologies. The key property which makes organic photovoltaic so attractive is the potential of reel to reel processing on low cost substrates with standard coating and printing processes.(Brabec, 2004) This makes for mass production processes, compared to that of the heavy investment into semiconductor processing technology required for inorganic photovoltaic cells. When the organic photovoltaic exceeds efficiency of 10% installed (10 % efficiency has been reached in the laboratories) they will start becoming competitive with the classic photovoltaic technologies.
Organic Photovoltaic's can be printed on flexible sheets of plastic, paper etc at a far less cost which opens many new possibilities for use. Light weight thin-film organic solar material which are made from conductive polymer and organic nano engineered materials are on the market by Konarka Technologies. These are supplied integrated in carrier bags, umbrellas etc where one can recharge their personal appliances while enjoying a cup of coffee or relaxing in the outdoors .They allow energy to be generated where it is used and being flexible they can be integrated into structures i.e. roofs walls and windows. Imagine a personal appliance where the plastic casing is the solar cell dispensing with flat batteries this is the future. Presently these organic solar materials target low power consumer applications but are expected to grow continuously in size and increase in performance in the coming years and as efficiency and lifetime improve the potential for organic solar cells to enter the on the grid power generation market will become more a reality. Organic photovoltaic's have been attracting large attention from investors because they are potentially much cheaper to make and easy to adapt to a wide range of power applications they have the potential to make transformative changes to the worldwide energy market .IDTechEx estimate that the" organic photovoltaic's (OPV) market today is $4.6 million and forecast that it will rise to $ 630 million in 2022".(IDTechEx, 2012).
Large area Deployment of solar technologies is needed in order to offset a significant proportion of non renewable energy consumption. Because of the low density of solar illumination large areas deployed with solar technologies are required.
Currently under development at MIT is a low cost transparent photo voltaic technology that be installed on existing windows of say cars, sky scrapers and so on. (~(3)))) These will utilize the existing transparent structures for to harvest electricity. And being transparent will not affect to any greater degree the transmissive qualities of these structures in visible light. This would also block the heating effect of the sunlight passing through the windows by converting a percentage of it into electricity, having an added advantage of cutting down on air conditioning within the buildings.
An Oxford company developed a low cost solar cell which has the advantage of be processed over large areas the solar cell can be printed on glass or other surfaces ideally suited for new buildings where solar cells could be incorporated into glazing panels and walls. These technologies solve the problem with large area deployment. The researchers at Oxford PV claim that their solar cell has the potential to last up to 20 years( The current longevity of solar cells is approximately 3 years.(4())) The demonstrated implementation of their technology on glass surface resulted with 8% efficiency of the cells.
It is expected that after further development in the laboratories (Improving efficiency and durability), and work on the production processing, that these technologies could become a commercial product within the next ten years. Making available many new alternative locations for harvesting the suns energy.
Organic Light Emmitting Diodes OLEDs offer the prospect of energy efficient light sources it requires less power to run over it lifetime and so reduces overall costs; other advantages is that they are an environmentally friendly technology. They can be printed onto any suitable substrate including flexible plastic this makes it economical to produce. This is why OLED lighting have gained backing from many major players who are pushing OLED lighting forward as the favourable technology going forward, companies such as DuPont, General Electric, Mitsubishi. Both Oshram and Philips have OLED lighting products on the market.
Currently OLED technology is used in products such as mobile phones portable digital media players among others there advantage in these applications is there high light output and low power drain. Flexible displays that can roll up have been demonstrated and flexible signs and lighting have show to be functional using OLEDs. In the near future it is expected that OLED s technology will improve in performance and cost relative to LEDs and will expand and be competitive into many different markets i.e. architectural, automotive applications.