The Japan based Nagase is announcing a collaboration with Inkron, a Finnish high tech material company, for novel optical materials based on “Inkron’s Optical Coating (IOC) products of photo-patternable dielectric and light control materials. These materials allow unique optical properties as well as excellent processing suitability for OLED and on-cell touch sensors can be implemented. This includes low temperature and ultraviolet cure processing as well as physical features such as well controllable optical properties and mechanical flexibility”.
A press release from the firms does mention the increasing market expectations for demand for OLED displays to be used in wearable and flexible displays. As these products are starting to grow in sales numbers, so new optical materials will be needed to improve display performance. These relative vague statements become a little clearer when we look at the materials Inkron is developing at the moment.
They are focusing on siloxane materials with varying refractive indices and high light transmittance that can be used to create antireflective coatings that are also flexible. Typical AR coatings based on alternating layers with varying refractive indices make use of hard oxide materials that are quite brittle after deposition. Flexible and rollable displays may not be able to use these existing solutions. They are also able to adhere to and cover transparent conducting layers such as silver wires and metal mesh.
While this is not specifically called out as an application the collaboration is focusing on, it seems to make sense based on the fact that Inkron will be continuing their development of optical materials in Finland and supply “key siloxane materials” to the optical materials manufactured by Nagase. Now here is the interesting part; the Inkron materials are aiming at screen printing processes (even though other deposition processes are possible) which means that they are being applied directly on the display top surface, so what is Nagase actually manufacturing here? Maybe they just provide specific mixtures to the display makers in Asia. Nevertheless, the press release says that the products produced under this collaboration will be ramped up in 2016 at the Nagase manufacturing plant in Tatsuno, Japan. NH