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Solar Cells on Flexible Glass Demonstrated by FlexTech Alliance Funded Project

Oct 25, 2012

Collaborative project among Corning, Binghamton University’s Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing (CAMM) and Western Michigan University’s Center for the Advancement of Printed Electronics (CAPE) shows feasibility of producing “smart” surfaces of the future on new ultra-thin flexible glass product

FlexTech Alliance, focused on developing the electronic display and flexible, printed electronics industry supply chains, has completed a project with Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW) that demonstrated the potential of roll-to-roll (R2R) printed electronics on flexible glass substrates. The project verified the possibility of manufacturing devices with a low-cost, high-throughput process on flexible glass, potentially benefiting applications including sensors, energy harvesting and storage, displays, and solid state lighting.

Corning® Willow™ Glass, described by the company as a “validation of flexible electronics concepts assisted by FlexTech Alliance funding” will help enable thin, light and cost-efficient applications including today’s ultra-slim displays and the smart surfaces of the future. It will support thinner backplanes, color filters and touch sensors for Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED) and liquid crystal displays (LCD) in high performance, portable devices such as smart phones, tablets, and notebook computers. This new, ultra-slim flexible glass will also enable curved displays for viewing or mounting on non-flat surfaces.

For this project, a photovoltaic device was jointly designed, CAMM deposited ITO and patterned the device on Willow Glass using R2R processes. Corning then cut the spooled Willow Glass into 75mm x 300mm substrates to be compatible with CAPE’s gravure printing equipment, which was used to pattern the active layers in the organic PV device. Solar simulator testing was performed and confirmed by Western Michigan University.

“Our mission is to bring together key suppliers to move flexible electronics along a path to commercialization,” stated Michael Ciesinski, chief executive officer, FlexTech Alliance. “These new Corning materials and the manufacturing processes developed by this team will open the gateway to a wide range of new flexible applications. This project illustrates that collaboration is key to bringing practical and producible products to the marketplace.”

The FlexTech Alliance R&D program is a collaborative effort of private industry and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, located in Adelphi, Maryland. The CAMM is a partnership between Binghamton University (BU), Endicott Interconnect Technologies (EI), Cornell University and the Flex Tech Alliance.

About the FlexTech Alliance The FlexTech Alliance is the only organization headquartered in North America exclusively devoted to fostering the growth, profitability and success of the electronic display and the flexible, printed electronics supply chain. FlexTech offers expanded collaboration between and among industry, academia, government, and research organizations for advancing displays and flexible, printed electronics from R&D to commercialization. To this end, the FlexTech Alliance, based in San Jose, Calif., will help foster development of the supply chain required to support a world-class, manufacturing capability for displays and flexible, printed electronics. More information about the FlexTech Alliance can be found at the industry portal: www.flextech.org.

About Corning Incorporated Corning Incorporated (www.corning.com) is the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics. Drawing on more than 160 years of materials science and process engineering knowledge, Corning creates and makes keystone components that enable high-technology systems for consumer electronics, mobile emissions control, telecommunications and life sciences. Our products include glass substrates for LCD televisions, computer monitors and laptops; ceramic substrates and filters for mobile emission control systems; optical fiber, cable, hardware & equipment for telecommunications networks; optical biosensors for drug discovery; and other advanced optics and specialty glass solutions for a number of industries including semiconductor, aerospace, defense, astronomy and metrology.

About the Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing The Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing (CAMM) is a national microelectronics manufacturing R&D center established in 2005 at Binghamton University, with its partners, Endicott Interconnect Technologies, Cornell University and the Flex Tech Alliance. The CAMM is part of the New York State Center of Excellence in Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging. The CAMM is demonstrating the feasibility of roll-to-roll electronics manufacturing by acquiring prototype tools and establishing processes capable of producing low-volume test bed products. The CAMM addresses fundamental enabling technologies and sciences associated with roll-to-roll manufacturing of flexible electronics, and also conducts research on issues associated with system design, integration, performance, yield, and manufacturing feasibility. Key application areas that may be advanced include: medical diagnostics, military and homeland security, flexible displays and electronics, space and energy, computers and telecommunications, and additional consumer products.

About the Center for the Advancement of Printed Electronics The purpose of the Center for the Advancement of Printed Electronics, housed in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Western Michigan University, is to provide a facility for research, development and application of materials for the fabrication of flexible electronic devices on printing press. The center contributes to the advancement of the printing, paper, and electronics industries, and their suppliers through the material design and analysis, device prototyping, device testing, press engineering, press-setup, education and training. Examples of printed flexible electronic devices include sensors, organic photovoltaics, intelligent packaging, radio frequency identification devices and flexible displays.