There’s gold in them thar organic electronics

Karl Leo, a scientist at IAPP, delivered a most interesting talk about the promise organic electronics holds.

He said that we know about 5,000 organic materials that have semiconductor properties. There are three main application areas, he said – OLEDs (organic LEDs), photovoltaic (PV) and organic logic. He points out that while OLEDs are still limited to small displays, the quality of the displays are very high.

For electronic products, an organic layer is very thin, and materials are only half a gram per square metre.  

There’s a lot of research going on in memory products. Currently there are some apps where organic electronics are in the market, but organic logic is still struggling and silicon is cheap.

The first organic lighting products came to the market a few weeks ago, said Leo and while there are technical problems still to be resolved, experiments show that organic lighting is very efficient and at a par with the efficiency of fluorescent tubes. The first apps for organic lighting will be designer products for people with lots of money.


Market projections of the size of the market are highly exaggerated, he said, showing this slide. Although he believes that organic electronics will be the next big wave after semiconductors and displays. “It will soon be a multibillion market but there are some challenges and expectations are higher than real results,” he said.

The reality, he said, is that there’s an exaggerated prognosis for the takeup of the market. It was worth $800 million last year. He said there will be continuous growth in the marketplace and the quality of the displays in a few years time will be a critical factor.

While there is undoubted promise in PV for organic products, Leo said that there are still some challenges to overcome, including the lifetime of the cells – you don’t want to climb onto your roof every couple of years, he said.

OLEDs for a product such as Apple iPad is at least two weeks away, he said.

Production is relatively straightforward using roll to roll processes with metal foil or plastic, but organic materials are sensitive to oxygen and water and so right now these will be inexpensive