What You Can Expect from Printed Electronics in 2010

As we enter the New Year IDTechEx look back and summarises some of the main global trends in 2009 and gives some predictions, and indeed areas of opportunity, for the New Year.

Trends in 2009
IDTechEx saw a huge rise in activity on metal oxide transistors (which can be transparent, high current and high frequency). One key potential application for these is OLED display backplanes, given the higher current performance required compared to conventional aSi backplanes used for LCDs. Many more organisations are developing printed nanosilicon as well, their focus varying from RFID transistor circuits to photovoltaics.

Only limited demonstrators have been realized so far, however. We expect commercial products to appear perhaps from 2012 onwards. In contrast, there was some shakeout in those developing organic semiconductor based transistors. However next year the first commercial product will appear from Plastic Logic using these to drive E-ink e-reader displays. PolyIC promises RFID demonstrators based on organic transistors.

2009 saw growth in innovation, quantified from the huge number of companies that moved into carbon nanotubes and graphene research, to those that demonstrated memristors, embedded electrochromic, electroluminescent and other forms of displays, and much more. Just read Printed Electronics World for evidence of the rapid growth in innovation (www.PrintedElectronicsWorld.com).

From the peak interest in photovoltaics in mid 2008, 2009 was a harder year for all involved in photovoltaics as demand was half of capacity, and the biggest customer (the Spanish government) drastically cut back its photovoltaic budget.

Those that have not yet started to open manufacturing facilities may struggle to raise the money to do so over the next year. We still await CIGs/DSSC/OPV to be printed on a commercial scale, which developers say will happen in 2010 but given the overcapacity it could be another year or so. There was a huge surge in activity in East Asia, from acquisition of display companies (OLED materials from Kodak, E-ink, Polymervision etc) to new transistor based work.

New in 2009 was huge interest from end users, particularly consumer goods companies and consumer electronics companies that have set up internal teams focused on studying and applying printed electronics in their businesses.

Now the opportunity is for the industry to conceive and develop new products using printed electronics for these companies. Those that have been successfully commercial have moved from the left of the value chain to the right. Despite the economic meltdown, fund raising was still rife on both sides of the Atlantic, with strong new investor interest. The number of new organizations entering the topic, despite the recession, has grown considerably, indicated by a 25% growth in attendance at the recent IDTechEx Printed Electronics USA event in San Jose, CA — the World’s largest event on the topic.

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