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An overview of the organic semiconductor industry

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  1. Organic semiconductors: What is it all about?
    1. History
    2. Structure of the industry
  2. Commercialization
  3. Increase in patenting activity
  4. Investment
  5. Government funding
  6. US funding
  7. European funding
  8. IPO's
  9. Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
  10. Further spin-outs expected
  11. Licensing

In the late 1970s, three researchers published a groundbreaking paper on the discovery that certain classes of plastics were capable of being modified to enable them to function as a poorly conducting metal. So groundbreaking and significant was the discovery that in 2000 the Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to Alan Heeger (Professor of Physics, University of California), Alan MacDiarmid, and Hideki Shirakawa for their pioneering work on conductive polymers.

In the late 1980s, Richard Friend, Jeremy Burroughes and Donal Bradley discovered that certain classes of conducting polymers could be coaxed into emitting light, so laying the foundations for a new generation of flat panel displays. In 2003, Richard Friend (Professor of Physics at Cambridge University) was knighted for his services to physics.

Both Heeger and Friend have played key roles in the science behind polymer based organic semiconductors. Both researchers have been active in commercializing the technology discovered in their laboratories. Heeger founded Uniax (displays) in 1990 and sold it to DuPont in 1999. He now sits on the boards of two companies: QTL BioSystems (sensors) and Konarka Technologies (solar cells). Friend co-founded Cambridge Display Technology (displays) in 1992, which was also sold in 1999 to Kelso & Co and Hillman Capital. He now sits on the board of Plastic Logic (electronics) - yet another spin-out company from his laboratory. In December 2004, Cambridge Display Technology IPO'ed on NASDAQ.

[...] It is being built by start-up companies such as Cambridge Displays Technology, Universal Displays, eMagin, Micro Emissive Displays, Konarka Technologies, Nanosolar, Plextronics, Nanoident, Novaled, Thin-film Electronics, Elam-T, PolyIC, Polymer Vision, Plastic Logic, OrganicID, ORFID, and others who are defining the materials, initial design rules and manufacturing techniques necessary for making light-emitting, transistors, simple logic gates, memory cells, photovoltaic and sensors from organic semiconductors. PolyIC is a joint venture between Siemens and Kurz, Polymer Vision is part of the technology incubator unit within Philips. OrganicID and ORFID are both early stage university spin-outs from University of Texas and University of California respectively. Nanoident, based in Austria, has been formed to develop photonic sensor technology based on organic semiconductors. It has already produced its demo - a 50x50 pixel sensor. Patenting activity is increasing Innovation within the organic semiconductor industry is gathering pace. [...]


[...] Then, in February 2005, Merck acquired both Covion and the Electronic Materials group from Avecia paying million cash for about 100 people. In June 2005, Sumitomo Chemical acquired the Lumination business unit from Dow for an undisclosed sum. Lumation was responsible for developing polyfluorene light emitting polymers which are used in OLED devices to manufacture flat panel displays. In June 2005, Sumitomo and Cambridge Display Technology formed a joint venture to manufacture market and sell light emitting polymers. Then, in August 2005, OTB Displays acquired the Philips PolyLED business including the production facility at Heerlen in the Netherlands. [...]


[...] An overview of the organic semiconductor industry INDUSTRY PROFILE OF SEMICONDUCTORS Organic semiconductors: What is it all about? History In the late 1970s, three researchers published a groundbreaking paper on the discovery that certain classes of plastics were capable of being modified to enable them to function as a poorly conducting metal. So groundbreaking and significant was the discovery that in 2000 the Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to Alan Heeger (Professor of Physics, University of California), Alan MacDiarmid, and Hideki Shirakawa for their pioneering work on conductive polymers. [...]


[...] US funding Much of the investment has been provided by the US Army, through the US Display Consortium (USDC), that is dedicated to funding the necessary infrastructure in the US to enable the manufacture of flexible displays and flexible electronics for battlefield use. In addition, the US Army has just committed $ 43.7 million, over a five-year period, to fund the Flexible Display Centre that will be based at Arizona State University. The US Dept of Energy has also earmarked monies for organic semiconductors. The DoE is interested in this technology for the simple reason that it has the potential to make incredibly efficient solid-state lighting. Efficient sources of lighting will lower the long-term demand for electricity. [...]

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