Organic electronic devices have applications in displays, photovoltaics, sensors, logic, lighting and radio-frequency identification tags. Their market is predicted to be more than $44 billion globally by 2018 (Transparency Market Research, April 2012).
Our measurements have provided structural insight to help guide materials development at Merck Chemicals, Corning, and other manufacturers.
NIST is an organizer of the yearly International Summit on Organic Photovoltaic Stability hosted in 2011 on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) campus. NREL is also a scientific collaborator.
We have engaged the Flextech Alliance by organizing a special session at its annual meeting and hosting a Flextech workshop for measurements and standards.
Collaborators include Luna Innovations, Plextronics and Polyera. A solar company embedded one of its employees at NIST in Gaithersburg for a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement collaboration.
Developing commercial products based on organic electronics requires materials that deliver predictable and reproducible performance. One advantage of these materials is their compatibility with versatile solution processing methods. However, this advantage can lead to unpredictable performance and poor reproducibility because the critical microstructure of the material forms dynamically as the solution dries during manufacturing. Many process parameters influence the drying process and the microstructure formation is often hard to control.
To address these challenges, we develop quantitative methods to correlate chemical structure and process control variables to performance via microstructure measurements. A combination of spectroscopic tools (infrared, visible and X-ray), diffraction and scanning probe microscopy provides sufficiently detailed characterization to isolate the contributions of individual structure and processing variables. This integrated measurement platform provides a rational basis for informing process design, and it will further accelerate materials development by separating the molecular basis for electric performance from the process-induced variability. In situ variations on fast and low-cost versions of these techniques will provide a robust platform for science-based process control.