UK firm invests in plastic electronics

01 February 2007

Silicon use in semiconductors is facing competition from a more robust alternative, plastic electronics.

Conductive polymers have been arund for over 40 years but interest in their use is growing as they do not need to be processed at the high temperatures in expensive cleanrooms.

The traditional inorganic materials are printed in sheets using inkjet printers. More recently, their availablility on flexible substrates has led to their use in a new generation of devices, such as flexible displays.

Cambridge-based Plastic Logic (www.plasticlogic.com) will introduce mass-production of plastic circuits after it secured funding to build a factory, not in the UK but in Dresden, Germany.

It has been reported that the grants available to the company for building in Germany provided a third more of the investment that the UK government agencies could contribute to keep the technology in, and introduce jobs to, the UK.

The factory will manufacture plastic circuits, from organic polymers or conductive plastics, competing with silicon. Presently, plastic electronics is limited by component size, five to 10um, compared to nanometer geometries of silicon semiconductors. The company is currently working on 60nm components, hoping to make plastic devices viable for substitutes for silicon technology.


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