World-leading chemical company BASF creates the chemistry for materials and other component products that enable multiple industry applications. With the goal of expanding beyond its existing business into new areas, it developed a portfolio of organic chemistry-based materials targeted at display manufacturers. While the company has significant chemistry expertise, BASF did not have the in-house capability to integrate transistors for backplanes and displays using its materials. The ability to demonstrate such an application would help BASF capture value-added opportunities with prospective customers in the display market.
PARC already had experience with commercial display manufacturers and applications. More importantly, PARC had a full spectrum of deep expertise in organic and printed electronics – ranging from jet-printing techniques and lithographic processes, to flexible substrates and the ability to integrate displays and backplanes. PARC could therefore not only test BASF’s materials, but also provide the necessary know-how to apply these materials to a display prototype for BASF.
The engagement was framed in two phases: feasibility and prototyping. BASF provided a set of materials PARC researchers could work on within their own comprehensive facility, which includes infrastructure for materials characterization and processing, device fabrication, and system design. PARC conducted experiments on multiple materials in BASF’s portfolio before both parties agreed on the use of a promising n-channel material to produce transistors for integration onto display backplanes. As challenges arose, PARC researchers were able to quickly resolve them – this included, for example, designing a custom process to address specific needs during prototyping.
"PARC did an outstanding job in delivering the first prototype of a flexible e-paper display driven by a printed transistor backplane based on BASF's innovative n-type organic semiconductor technology. We were truely impressed by PARC's deep expertise and how they approached, and accomplished, this challenging task." -- Dr. Stephan Klotz, Director of Printed Electronics, BASF Future Business
PARC was able to achieve the first inkjet- printed, flexible, n-type display backplane using BASF’s material. As a result, PARC delivered:
- Insight into methods by which BASF’s display clients could produce such backplanes with BASF materials
- Demonstrators that BASF could use both internally and with potential clients
- An integrated electronic system (i.e., hardware and software) to drive the displays
Most importantly: PARC delivered to BASF an understanding of what it took to move from materials to integrated devices, even though BASF had long-standing expertise on the chemical side. This insight and understanding would help BASF in its efforts to design and optimize further material solutions for the industry, and better support its target clients at the materials- and integrated-device/application levels.
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