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Organic Electronics: A Market Growing Wild

Enabled by the evolution of polymer materials and improved manufacturing techniques, Organic and Large Area Electronics (OLAE) are taking off. It's a market worth keeping an eye on.

Although still in early stages, this market promises strong and steady growth, analysts say. “The value chain of the organic electronics market is closely interlinked with the traditional silicon electronics,” said a newly released report from MarketsandMarkets. “It has been rapidly expanding and shaping into a strong, well-connected chain over the past few years.”

Compared to silicon electronics, organic electronics offer some compelling benefits. These components cost less, are bio-degradable, have low-cost substrates, and can be directly integrated into their packages, according to MarketsandMarkets. The resulting products have the advantage of being lightweight, highly flexible, simpler to process, and able to create large areas for applications such as displays.

Today, applications remain focused on a few key areas. “There are four major application areas: displays, lighting, photovoltaics, and integrated smart systems,” said Commercialization of Organic and Large Area Electronics (COLAE), a European project to support use of the technology.

The infographic from Allied Market Research below lays out some of the numbers. Have organic electronics made it into your designs and strategic sourcing plans? Let us know how you are using organic electronics in the comments section below.

— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN Circle me on Google+ Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn page Friend me on Facebook

13 comments on “Organic Electronics: A Market Growing Wild

  1. FLYINGSCOT
    January 3, 2015

    Can you share some more details about the types of electronics that can be integrated into organic electronics.  Is the packing density the same as silicon or will it only be good for relatively low tech solutions?

  2. Daniel
    January 4, 2015

    “Enabled by the evolution of polymer materials and improved manufacturing techniques, Organic and Large Area Electronics (OLAE) are taking off. It's a market worth keeping an eye on.”

    Haiely, eventhough there are many merits for OLED's; it seems that the usage is very low in electronic equipments and display units. Few years back some of the companies introduced OLED TV's; but nothing gained any momentum in market.

  3. SP
    January 5, 2015

    Looking at the amount if e-waste being generated it will be a boon for the environment and of course the mankind if the electronics materials are organic and are bio degradable. Waste management is a big issue I'm developing economies so it would be do helpful.

  4. Ariella
    January 5, 2015

    @SP that's true. We certainly don't need any more filler for landfills. 

  5. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    January 5, 2015

    @flyingscott, I'm not sure about packing density, but these electronic components are already being integrated into high-tech electronics. For example, OEMs are building smart phones with organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays (namely, the Samsung Galaxy).

    Other applications are still emerging. From a white paper from the Chemical Sciences and Society Summit (CS3) titled Organic Electronics for a Better Tomorrow: Innovation, Accessibility, Sustainability:

    “Potential future applications are enormous and untold. Organic materials are being studied and developed for their potential to build devices with a flexibility, stretchability and softness (“soft electronics”) not afforded by silicon or any other inorganic materials –that is, electronic devices that bend, twist, and conform to any surface.

    Imagine a smartphone that folds like a map. Devices made with organic materials also have the potential to interface with biological systems in ways not possible with inorganic materials. Imagine an artificial skin with a tactile sensitivity approximating real skin that can be used to treat burns or add functionality to prosthetic limbs.

    Potential applications of organic electronics span a  broad range of fields, including medicine and biomedical research, environmental health, information and communications, and national security.”

     

    I think its really exciting…I'm betting that there wlil be uses we can't even imagine today.

  6. Daniel
    January 5, 2015

    “Looking at the amount if e-waste being generated it will be a boon for the environment and of course the mankind if the electronics materials are organic and are bio degradable. Waste management is a big issue I'm developing economies so it would be do helpful.

    SP, now most of the equipments and devices are following RoHS standards and hence to an extent its safe for destroying. I mean in terms of hazardous; then also recycling of e waste is a big issue in global scenario.

  7. Daniel
    January 5, 2015

    “that's true. We certainly don't need any more filler for landfills. “

    Ariella, now its sea fills. Countries like US and EU are disposing such waste to sea 

  8. Daniel
    January 5, 2015

    “Organic materials are being studied and developed for their potential to build devices with a flexibility, stretchability and softness (“soft electronics”) not afforded by silicon or any other inorganic materials –that is, electronic devices that bend, twist, and conform to any surface.”

    Hailey, I think OLEDs can be used in all places similar to normal electronic products. now a day's most of the high-end Smartphones & TVs are using OLED for display unit.

  9. alliedmarketresearch
    January 6, 2015

    We have mentioned the major application areas of organic electronics in the infographic that you see above. As the market is at an initial growth stage, assuming its penetration is other sections in the current scenario would not be an intelligent attempt. However, organic electronics is expected to experience a boom in the current applications. ORFID is one among the applications that possess huge potential and is expected to gradually replace RFID tags used currently. Talking about the packing density, it is something very technical and one cannot talk about it in comparison to organic electronics and the present electronics. This might differ from application to application and may also change/fluctuate with technological advancements. Moreover, we deal in market research and analyse the market based on factors that impact the market. We have considered packing density as a factor to analyse the market but this is something used as a backend process and revealing such detailed technicalities here does not seem possible as per our norms. 

  10. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    January 6, 2015

    @alliedmarketresearch, thanks for chiming in and for the clarification. It will be interesting to see how this market evolves and changes. Keep us posted on what you see!

  11. jsheats
    January 13, 2015

    There are a few assertions here which would benefit from more detail.  The simplest and maybe of lesser importance:  there is no active organic electronic material which is biodegradable – no exceptions.  These are conjugated, at least substantially aromatic polymers or monomers, and while one might breed bugs which can attack them (like the “oil-digesting bacteria” we always hear about for oil spills, but never actually see used), but these molecules will be around at least as long as polyethylene.

    Organic digital electronics are not low cost; in fact they are very expensive compared to silicon.  This is simply due to the “packing density” that was referred to by someone else: printing technology cannot shrink the way lithography has.  They are limited in performance not just by charge mobility (= clock speed) but by voltage (= power), and that is why they will never be used for RFID, where read range is critical.  (NFC is possible, but why use organic instead of printed silicon as with Kovio, which failed commercially?)

    The big problem is that all possible electrically active organic materials are lumped into one category, which is like considering the light bulb industry to be part of the computer industry.  (In fact in the future lighting may be part of semiconductors, but that's another story).  Organic LEDs are responsible for nearly all of the plausibly valid economic projections cited here; they have competely different spects regarding patterning (pixels are not shrinking with Moore's Law).

  12. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    January 13, 2015

    @jsheats, thanks for the clarifications. Do you see strong uses for these organic electronics or do you think that these drawbacks will limit the usefulness?

  13. jsheats
    January 13, 2015

    Hi Halley; my answer is “it depends” (!).  I think OLEDs have a very prominent role to play; they will do well in displays (it has taken many years more than their advocates, of whom I was one, had expected because display products today are extremely sophisticated and the bar is just very high; but now they are there).  They may succeed in lighting as well; the potential is strong but they have to get cheaper and the barrier materials better (and cheaper).  I think they can do it.  That of course is a huge potential industry.

    I am skeptical of organic PV: even if the wildest dreams of proponents are realized (much greater efficiency and lifetime), I don't see the advantage compared to thin film CdSe or CIGS.  (Disclaimer: I was an early member of Nanosolar…)  These molecules are not cheap to make, and material cost dominates PV.

    I wrote a paper in Circuit World (2010) with detailed calculations showing how much more expensive printed transistors are than conventional silicon, which can be made as thin and flexible as anyone needs.  This isn't going to change dramatically.  Some academics are pushing printing resolution down toward 1 micron, but not below, and how will it be registered (layer to layer)?  You just can't beat Moore's Law.

    Where active organic materials can shine is in sensors (especially biosensors).  There you need only one transistor to be a sensor, and submicron size is rarely of value.  The variety of environmental responses and chemical reactions of organic materials is now a big advantage.  Nature has already evolved incredibly sensitive signal transducers (single photon, quantum-limited acoustics, single molecule detection, etc.): we haven't yet scratched the surface in practical application. Such things could someday largely replace MEMS accelerometers with higher sensitivity, lower cost and smaller size.  Someday!

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