HANNOVER MESSE 2018, 23 - 27 April
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Photochemical metallization

Silver circuits on foil allow curved touchscreens

Logo Photochemical metallization

Product description

For the proper functioning of touchscreens in smart phones or tablets, microscopically fine conductor lines are required on their surfaces. At the edges of the appliances, these microscopic circuit paths come together to form larger connective pads. Until now, these different lines had to be manufactured in several steps in time-consuming processes. With the photochemical metallization this is now possible in one single step on flexible substrates. The process offers several benefits: It is fast, flexible, variable in size, inexpensive and environmentally friendly. Furthermore additional process steps for post-treatment are not necessary.
In the new process, the foils are coated with a photoactive layer of metal oxide nanoparticles. After that a colorless, UV-stable silver compound is applied. By irradiation of this sequence of layers, the silver compound disintegrates on the photoactive layer and the silver ions are reduced to form metallic, electrically conductive silver. In this way, lines of varying sizes down to the smallest size of a thousandth of a millimeter can be achieved.
This basic principle allows conductor lines to be created very individually. Writing conductor lines using UV lasers is the process which is particularly suitable for the initial customized prototype manufacture and for testing a new design of the conductor lines.
The researchers are currently working intensely on a new method, the usage of transparent stamps. These stamps push out the silver compound mechanically; conductor lines then only occur where the silver compound remains. Since the stamps are made of a soft plastic, they can be arranged on a roll. Because the stamps are transparent, researchers at INM are now working on embedding the UV source directly in the roll. Thus, the initial steps for a roll-to-roll process will be taken. It will therefore be possible to manufacture conductor line structures of various sizes on foils on a large scale.

Hall 2, Stand B46

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