The global chemicals giant Solvay is pumping $14.5 million into Plextronics, a Pittsburgh technology startup, to jump start development of printed electronics such as organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), specifically OLED displays and lighting, as well as organic photovoltaic cells (OPV).
"The adoption of OLED technology is a visible sign that organic and printed electronics are on the verge of becoming a major market for advanced materials. Plextronics is our partner of choice to succeed in this high-growth area, and we continue to work closely on developing joint business opportunities," says Leopold Demiddeleer, head of future businesses and corporate platforms, a section of Solvay's newly created Innovation Center.
Solvay has been a Plextronics technology partner since 2007, Sean Rollman, Plextronics' chief financial officer, told Design News in an interview. "The new financing provides a runway to get us to full commercialization." Some of the company's OLED applications are expected to go commercial by the end of this year.
Plextronics was founded in 2002 as a Carnegie Mellon University spinout based on conductive polymer technology developed by Dr. Richard McCullough. Since then, Plextronics scientists have further developed the technology to boost performance for printed electronics.
The company recently announced that its Plexcore ink has been integrated into Universal Display Corp.'s solution-processed, phosphorescent OLED technology to help lower operating voltage and extend the lifetime of test devices.
A type of Plexcore ink, designated OC NQ, was made available for limited sampling to key customers and partners in October. The ink, geared specifically for solution processible phosphorescent OLED emitters, is based on a nonaqueous technology called hole injection layer (HIL) that is said to complement the company's aqueous-based HIL.
Dr. Kwang Ohk Cheon, senior research scientist at Universal Display, reported the following results:
- The green P2OLED system, which offers a luminous efficiency of 68 candelas per Ampere (cd/A), has achieved an operating lifetime of 175,000 hours, or approximately 1.3 times better than results reported last fall.
- The red P2OLED system, with a luminous efficiency of 18 cd/A, now offers an operating lifetime of 125,000 hours, or double its previous total.
- The light blue P2OLED system offers a luminous efficiency of 29 cd/A and 8,000 hours of operating lifetime. Both figures are 1.6 times improvements.