While silicon has been the chosen substrate for the manufacture of high-performance electronic devices for the past fifty years, the tremendous rise in interest in organic electronics in recent years has resulted from hopes of substantially lower costs and attractive characteristics that can be accomplished with organic materials (Klauk, 2006, Chapter 4). Organic electronics, working with carbon-based conductive polymers, plastics or small molecules, are promising to allow the development of a new generation of basic microelectronics building blocks, organic thin film transistors, at a much lower cost due to simplified techniques of patterning and deposition. The usage of materials that are heavier and more costly than conductive polymers and conventional semiconductors, including dielectrics, conductors and light emitters for numerous and varied uses in the area of electronics (Sun, 2008, Chapter 5) and (Wikipedia, 2010, ‘Organic Electronics’), is typical electronics, including the use of inorganic conductors, including copper and silicon. With dramatic advances anticipated in organic field effect transistors, organic electronics-based displays utilising organic light emitting diodes have already made their way into car radios, etc.
The demand for organic materials would be worth US$ 4.9 billion by 2012, according to reported estimates, and this would grow to US$ 15.8 billion in 2015 (Allen, 2008, Pp. 6). The aforementioned author states that by 2015, new forms of semiconductor materials, including rubrene, composite materials and carbon nanotube compositions, would begin to stimulate the industry to rise to US$ 4.9 billion, with organic electronic substrates rising to US$ 6.9 billion. Eighty percent of organic electronic materials will be sold for RFID, display backplanes and Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) lighting and display applications, according to NanoMarkets (2007, "Organic Harvest: Opportunities in Organic Electronic Materials"). According to the above article, however if organic electronics are to proceed on the path to growth, they would have to mimic the conventional semiconductor industry and invent an organic variant of CMOS with its own stable range of materials. Therefore, businesses specialised in electronic materials and organic electronic materials have to sell commercial volumes of n-type semiconductors and organic dielectrics. In addition, the previously mentioned report suggests that for large-scale organic electronic device manufacturing, material suppliers will have to formulate their offerings to suit large scale manufacturing plants. It is likely that the large-scale manufacturing plants for organic electronics will continue to use traditional evaporation, coating and flexo printing, rather than the much-touted ink-jet approaches, at least in the near future, so a need will exist for materials for the previously mentioned processes (NanoMarkets, 2009, “The Future of Organic Electronics Manufacturing”).
Photonics 21 (2009, Pp. 1 – 10) suggests that Organic and Large Area Electronics (OLAE) has the potential for presenting answers to many pressing concerns in the field of energy, environment, information and communication, mobility, health and others. Organic electronics will play an important role in the future of lighting, organic photovoltaic applications, displays, electronics and integrated smart systems. Already several electronic organisations in Europe and around the world are working to deliver on the promise. The previously mentioned report puts the market potential of organic and large area electronics at US$ 300 billion by the year 2027. The previously mentioned report states that OLAE is a transformative technology that will lead to next-generation solutions in the digital technology, electricity, healthcare, entertainment and advertisement sectors to satisfy the demands of Europe's wide end-user markets. Researchers expect that developments in organic electronics technology will contribute in terms of effective use of materials, added functionality of products and savings in energy to change the way people live.
Projections presented in Photonics 21 (2009, Pp. 4) for products of organic electronics are in Figure 1, below. From the figure below, it is clear that by the year 2010, the worldwide sale of semiconductors, flat panel displays had exceeded US$ 250 billion and US$ 130 billion respectively, and in the coming years, the worldwide sales of flat panel displays will approach US$ 150 billion. However, the previously mentioned report suggests that the worldwide sales of organic and printed electronics will grow to US$ 60 billion by the year 2019. The Photonics 21 report states that European players in the organic electronic field are global leaders in OLAE, with a 50% market share, with other players from North America, Japan and East Asia accessing the rest of the global market. However, judicious investments in research and manufacturing will decide about the key future players in organic electronics. Players in Europe are already in possession of materials and production machinery for organic electronics, with access to a huge European market. Nevertheless, despite the fact that organisations in Europe, including Photonics 21, Organic Electronics Association, European Technology Platform on Smart System Integration and Organic / Plastic Electronics Research Alliance are involved with the efforts to further the cause of organic electronics in Europe, a need exists for committed giants. There is a shortage of entrepreneurship associated with organic electronics in Europe with a clear view of research leading to manufacturing. Thus, Europe, like other developed regions in the world must compete to present applications that will succeed in the market.
Figure 1: Projections of the Worldwide Sales of Products of Organic Electronics, from Photonics 21 (2009, Pp. 4)
Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) market for the world, as estimated by several leading players in consumer electronics, will reach about US$ 5 – 6 billion in sales by the year 2018, as depicted in the figure below (Photonics 21, 2009, Pp. 21).
Figure 2: Overview of Organic Light Emitting Diode market predictions from several market research companies, from Photonics 21 (2009, Pp. 21)
Projections for the organic thin film market in Europe alone are in the figure below (Photonics 21, 2009, Pp. 27).
Figure 3: Projections for Thin Film Photovoltaic market for Europe, from (Photonics 21, 2009, Pp. 27)
The global market for organic and printed electronics, including logic / memory, battery, sensors, conductors and other products that are applications of organic electronics is in the figures below.
Figure 4: Market forecasts for Organic and Printed Electronics, from Photonics 21 (2009, Pp. 45)
Figure 5: Global Market for Organic and Printed Electronics, from Photonics 21 (2009, Pp. 52)
The brief discussion presented clearly demonstrates that published reports indicate that there is a great future for organic electronics. However, a need exists for major players to invest judiciously and for governments around the world to stimulate further research and investment in organic electronics today so that the world can benefit from this promising technology.
Allen, Glen. (2008). Organic Materials to Spike. Printed Circuit Design and Fabrication, Vol. 25 Issue 2, February 2008, Pp. 6. Retrieved: September 4, 2010, from: EBSCO.
Friend, Richard and Malliaras, George. (2005). An Organic Electronics Primer. Physics Today, May 2005, Pp. 53 – 58, Retrieved: September 4, 2010, from: EBSCO.
Gamota, Daniel & Zhang, Jie. (2007). Organic and Printed Electronics: The Next Big Thing. Printed Circuit Design and Manufacture, February 2007, Pp. 36 – 40. Retrieved: September 4, 2010, from: EBSCO.
Klauk, Hagen. (2006). Organic Electronics: Materials, Manufacturing and Applications. John Wiley & Sons.
NanoMarkets. (2007). Organic Harvest: Opportunities in Organic Electronic Materials. NanoMarkets.
NanoMarkets. (2009). The Future of Organic Electronic Manufacturing. NanoMarkets.
Photonics 21. (2009). Strategic Research Agenda: Organic and Large Area Electronics. Photonics 21. Retrieved: September 4, 2010, from: http://www.photonics21.org/
So, Frank (Editor). (2010). Organic Electronics: Materials, Processing, Devices and Applications. CRC Press.
Sun, Sam-Shajing & Dalton, Larry R. (2008). Introduction to Organic Electronic and Optoelectronic Materials and Devices. CRC Press.
Wiederrecht, Gary (Editor). (2010). Handbook of Nanoscale Electronics and Optics. Elsevier.
Wikipedia. (2010). Organic Electronics. Wikipedia. Retrieved: September 4, 2010, from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_electronics