Our glass sheets have a range of extraordinary properties, which make them remarkably robust and reliable. The semiconductor industry has already discovered ultra-thin glass as a key-element of the innovation roadmap. In a first step, we made our way into commercial applications like the smartphone market, with a focus on fingerprint sensors. Camera imaging, chip packaging and thin-film batteries will follow.
A new era
Currently, we are seeing the new era of organic or printed electronics emerging that is changing the rules, from miniaturization to large areas, from silicon to organic semiconductors, from vacuum processing to printing. Glass is an ideal substrate material for this industry.
Its high temperature stability enables the sintering of conductive inks. Its unsurpassed hermeticity protects organic materials, which are extremely sensitive to moisture and oxygen. Its excellent optical quality and scratch-resistance make it the best choice for the interface to the user.
SCHOTT is now working to build up a manufacturing equipment ecosystem for the use of ultra-thin glass, even as glass-on-roll, in this industry. Therefore, we are collaborating with industry partners, partially funded by the German BMBF, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Ultra-thin glass as a key to innovation
Various functionalities can be realized by using printed electronics, such as touch sensors, flexible displays and lighting, solar cells and smart labels. Printed electronics on ultra-thin glass will undoubtedly soon be used in many industries ranging from consumer electronics to packaging, white goods and the automotive industry.
The author of this article is Dr. Ruediger Sprengard.