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Enhancing European competitiveness, accelerating technological advances and reducing global power consumption: these are all key elements of the FLEXTRANS project.

FLEXTRANS is bringing together pioneering expertise from across Europe to quicken the pre-production and scale-up of organic semiconductors as a universal thin film transistor (TFT) backplane platform. This innovative technology will free the global display industry to create the next generation of low power, ultra thin and conformal OLED and LC displays for the consumer electronics market.

Crucially, the project will enhance Europe’s position in the supply of high value materials to leading Asian display manufacturers. These manufacturers dominate the €210bn global market for electronic flat panel displays used in high-volume consumer displays such as smartwatches, smartphones, tablets, laptops and televisions.

By enabling these manufacturers to launch new and improved products that drive consumers to upgrade their existing products, FLEXTRANS will drive growth into a market sector that is reliant on cutting-edge European materials expertise. The resulting demand will help protect and enhance the European scientific and chemical industries for years to come.

At the heart of all modern day electronics is the simple transistor, one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century and at the heart of this new generation of displays is the thin film transistor (TFT). These transistors form an Active Matrix of TFTs that switch and control every pixel in a display.

The FLEXTRANS project is based on the adoption of a groundbreaking new type of organic semiconductor material called truFLEX® which enables the manufacture of groundbreaking TFTs. Due to the unique design of the truFLEX® TFT platform, displays can be manufactured on glass or plastic and at room temperature. These enhanced displays are ultra-thin, lightweight and consume half the power of an average display. They can even be conformal.

Dr Hugh Williamson, Director of Manufacturing at SmartKem and project lead of the FLEXTRANS project, said: “Asian display manufacturers need to differentiate but require technologies with relatively low risk and cost of adoption. This represents a great opportunity for European chemical companies to revolutionise display technologies through strong IP-based materials innovation.

“This is why the FLEXTRANS project exists. This project will enhance Europe’s position in the supply of specialised, high value materials to this new, high growth sector of the display industry in Asia.

“The project is already progressing well, with several milestones already achieved or exceeded. As we progress, the resulting benefits will be felt across the European scientific community and will provide the impetus for a new high growth market sector.”

Dr Mike Cowin, Head of Strategic Marketing at SmartKem, added: “The output of the FLEXTRANS project will be a landmark in the display industry. It is an exceptional project in its commercial focus and will take a game-changing high value technology platform from the EU and embed it into the Asia display supply chain. It will also enable display integrators throughout the EU to be at the forefront in the design and integration of unique display products for consumer and automotive applications.

“We look forward to a successful project and the benefits this will bring to our region and the EU.”

The FLEXTRANS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Grant Agreement No 733542.