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ISORG in Plastic Electronics magazine

15/10/2012

ISORG in Plastic Electronics magazine Volume 5 issue 2, with focus on Smart Buildings

Plastic Electronics magazine is the reference magazine for Business and Market Strategies for Organic and Printable Electronics

In 2010 R&D centre CEA-Liten (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique and Laboratoire d'Innovation pour les Technologies des Energies Nouvelles) in Grenoble, France set up Isorg to commercialise its printed organic photonic sensor developments.

Isorg is developing two sensor products. The first is organic photodetectors to measure ambient light, colours and optical properties of fluid and gas circulating over the surface.  Applications include industrial, smart building, lighting, environment and safety. The other product is large-area organic electronics image sensors with different pixel résolutions and matrix complexity, depending on product and market. The technology is designed to recognise object positions, movement and  hapes.
Applications include industrial and consumer electronics. The printed polymer electronic sensors, based on materials such as PEDOT: PSS and active layers based on n-type and p-type organic semiconductor materials, can be applied to plastic, glass, and even paper, to create smart surfaces.

PILOT PRODUCTION

According to Isorg's technology roadmap the first products that the company will begin producing on its pilot line, based within CEALiten, will be low-resolution photonic sensor strips with 10-100 pixels over an area of 5 x 10cm, targeting industrial and consumer applications.

By 2015, within an industrial line that Isorg plans to build by 2014, the aim is to produce 50 x 50cm image sensors, featuring 1-20 million pixels. Plastic sensors PILOT ’We can customise sensors for different applications, but we use the same process and materials,' says co-founder Laurent Jamet. The pilot line includes  gravure, slot die coating, spin coating/ sputtering, screen, ultrasonic aerosol, inkjet printing and excimer laser. Isorg is working with various partners in different industries to develop applications and designs that will incorporate its arrays of sensor pixels, and produce these on plastic substrates for initial industrial and consumer applications.

There are also plans to licence the technology to the display industry for the integration of sensors in consumer electronics products. The sensor technology is
being adapted for a process for production on glass too. Glass-based devices will open up further smart building applications, and can also benefit displays in consumer electronics, as well as some industrial applications.

Contactless switc hing To show what its technology can enable, Isorg has designed a demonstrator, called the Magic Pad, which gives users a sense of the experience of using contactless controls and 3D interaction. The white goods industry is one example, where buttons on appliances are replaced with an interface that allows the user to control a washing machine or oven by detecting the proximity of the user's hand and motion. By making switches, buttons and mechanical controls obsolete, such systems become more intuitive, and wear and tear is reduced. For smart buildings the opportunities for contactless switches are also clear. Isorg is working on several smart building concepts, including interfaces for light and temperature management, access control, monitoring, and light management. Beyond the home, there are potential applications in retail spaces, museums and exhibitions for optical sensors that detect movement in a given space, particularly when considering security needs. Instead of lasers, which are visible, light at the infrared end of the spectrum is invisible to the naked eye. In this invisible ’light curtain' type of application, sensors around exhibits or surfaces and areas in shops can detect whether someone has stepped too close to a work of art, or whether high-value merchandise has been removed. Nearer-term the company is focusing on other merchandising and retail applications, including smart packaging with the spirits and high-value alcoholic drinks industry, as well as interactive posters, and point-of-sale displays. Initial products using Isorg's plastic electronics sensor technologies will launch in 2013, once the company has started commercial production on its new pilot line by the end of this year. Products include toys and other simple applications.

Design Jamet remarks: ’Lighting is a very fast-moving market as LEDs are getting more efficient, and there is more innovation in products and design, enabled by technology like flexible lighting and LED strips. ’We think there is a need for intelligence to control light - not just on and off, but also light levels and colours. In shops, for instance, more orange hues can create a nice ambience for customers.' Such systems can also save energy by providing better control over lighting. While Jamet thinks it will be another 2-3 years before smart building applications using Isorg's technology launch, initial applications will include lighting controls. The company is also working closely with lighting designers, where high-end lamps can be created without buttons and switches. The company has also been in contact with OLED lighting producers; but as the sector is still very young, Isorg's sensors are likely to be used initially with LED and conventional lighting.

French printed electronic sensor technology start-up Isorg has its eye on the glass industry. The firm is in the early stages of work to develop its process for fabricating sensor pixels directly onto glass for smart building applications. Isorg co-founder Laurent Jamet says: ’There is ongoing work to get to transparent electrodes, but this technology could potentially be combined with other technologies such as EC glass. ’The advantage of printed electronics is cost and integration - you can apply large-area sensing to glass, but it is not possible without printed electronics. ’Silicon is nanotechnology now, printed electronics is about metres of circuitry and glass is a large-area substrate, so it is very compatible. The other advantage is that glass has good barrier properties.' Despite the opportunity, Jamet stresses that smart glass is still only a nascent opportunity. The commercialisation of such technologies is at least three years away, he believes. ’The EC glass market is only getting started, like OLED lighting. It will not be part of our initial phases of commercial activity,' Jamet adds. Coupled with energy harvesting and next-generation lighting, sensors are part of a toolkit for smart buildings that will make this a central application area for plastic electronics. The necessary ubiquity fits well with the large-area production promised by plastic electronics. And thanks to materials advances, such as in n-type organic semiconductors, plastic electronic sensors are poised to rapidly expand, with projects moving beyond academic research phases and into early stages of commercialisation.