Japanese plastics maker Teijin goes electronic with revolutionary silicon ink

Japanese maker of chemicals and pharmaceuticals Teijin has just acquired the US nanotechnology outfit NanoGram, which has been working on a technology to turn silicon into an ink which may allow for semiconductors to be produced at up to half the start-up costs.

Teijin is thought to have paid two billion yen, or $23.4 million for the Californian company which has been working on the silicon particle technology since February last year – it’s thought with Teijin’s input and industrial strength the acquisition will speed up development into a useable format.

The ink is made from particles which are under 20 nm in diameter, and NanoGram is the only company in the world which has come up with a cost-efficient and practical way to produce the ink which can be sprayed onto substrates to create transistors.

Teijin, reports Nikkei (subscription), wants to use the ink to make tiny thin-film transistors that will get bunged into solar cells and LCDs. It could well be a boost to Japan’s PV and solar industry and shake up the chips market altogether. 

Sample shipments will begin this year but full scale production won’t start until 2015 if all goes to plan. Teijin suggests that by 2020, up to 20 percent of thin-film transistors will be created using the ink printing, compared to the standard baking of a thin film of silicon onto a glass substrate.

The silicon ink flexibile transistors will weigh as much as half the traditional glass flavour. From its original textiles, chemicals and pharmaceutical output Teijin is expected to further expand into the electronics materials market and plans to create its own silicon ink and plastic substrate transistors.