Barrier Films and Thin Film Encapsulation for
Flexible and/or Organic Electronics 2019-2029
Multi-layer barrier films, thin film encapsulation, ALD, flexible glass and beyond.
IDTechEx Research has been analysing the technologies and markets for barriers films and thin film encapsulation since 2010 when it was published in the first version of this report. Since that time, it has stayed extremely close to the latest research and market developments via its interview programme and company and conference visits. Each year, IDTechEx Research has updated its assessment, staying up-to-date with the latest technology and market developments.
Furthermore, IDTechEx Research has engaged closely with many of its clients, helping them better understand the technology and market landscape. We helped some clients make equity investment decisions in nascent barrier companies, advised some on the market need and size for various barrier technologies, and aided others to set their technology and production strategies such that they would stay ahead of technology transitions.
In its analysis of thin film encapsulation, IDTechEx Research brings its wealth of expertise in analysing printed, flexible and/or organic electronics. We have been at the forefront of this technology for past decade and half, developing numerous market-leading reports on all aspects of this technology and organising the largest global exhibitions and conferences.
This long background in the industry puts us in a uniquely experienced position. Indeed, we even have deep expertise on all end use markets for barrier and thin film encapsulation including OLED lighting, OLED displays, quantum dots, organic photovoltaics, emerging PV technologies, and so on.
What this report offers
This report offers a detailed technology analysis assessing R2R multilayer barrier (MLB) film technologies, various inline thin film encapsulation (TFE) techniques, R2R spatial atomic layer deposition (s-ALD), flexible glass and more.
For all these technologies, IDTechEx reviews the latest progress in performance and commercialization, examines the key remaining challenges, identifies and highlights the latest commercial activities, and overviews the key active companies. This technical analysis is crucial because most barrier technologies remain technically constrained given the challenging market requirements in terms of performance, flexibility, thinness, cost, and so on.
Our technology assessment offers a critical benchmarking of the various existing and emerging solutions and gives its view as to how the technology mix will be transformed in each application sector over the short-, medium- and long-terms.
This report provides detailed application analysis, focusing on plastic and/or flexible displays, large-area OLED lighting, quantum dot displays, organic photovoltaics and other flexible PVs, and more. For each application, we provide a detailed assessment of the application itself, looking at its past, present and future. Here, we outline the technical and commercial challenges and prospects at the application-level and analyse the role that the barrier can play in aiding or hindering further commercial progress. This is a critical chapter because different applications have different needs in terms of performance, cost, flexibility, and size.
We also provide ten-year market forecasts, in sqm and value, segmented by technology as well as by application. This enables one to understand which technologies will win in what applications, and why. It also helps plan by knowing short-, medium-, and long-term market sizes for various barrier technologies. Note that our forecasts are built up our detailed technical know-how, our long-standing engagement with the community, and our deep understanding of all its end use markets. Our costs projections are based on our inhouse bottom-up cost models.
Finally, throughout the report, we identify and assess the progress made by different companies and leading research institutes in developing barrier film or TFE technologies. This enables you to develop a solid understanding of the value chain.
It took a decade and half to enable the first commercial products using a flexible barrier or thin film encapsulation technologies. Contrary to some assumptions however, this success does not mean that the question of barrier technology is forever settled. Indeed, there is still much work to do to render flexible barrier technology a ubiquitous, widely-available, and low-cost component in devices of all sizes, sensitivity levels, flexibility degrees, and so on.
- Multilayer barrier (MLB) films: Many companies are developing a variant of this approach in which multiple pairs of inorganic-organic materials are deposited. These companies differ in terms of the materials they have chosen, the processes they have developed and the production and commercial readiness levels they have reached. Many such companies have had to pioneer solutions to overcome the considerable challenges in R2R production of MLB films. MLB films are today in a challenging market spot: displays, for now, have switched to inline whereas other target markets are still in the making. Some consider that they might go obsolete before ever seeing market daylight. We, however, asses that the future remains attractive, particularly as low-cost and large-area solutions.
- Inline thin film encapsulation: This is an evolution of the MLB approach. Here, the multilayer is formed inline directly and conformally over the device. As such, there is no additional substrate and adhesive, leading to thin devices. Here, the challenge is lowering TACT time and boosting yield. The latter is key because defects waste not just the film, but the entire device. Inline TFE is already commercial since around 2014 on rigid plastic displays. It is however now preparing to enable the transition to flexible/bendable devices. To do this, the materials and processes have had to evolve, reducing layer numbers, improving film quality, and minimising built-in stress. These evolutions must continue to reduce bending radius, to migrate to larger devices, and to accept direct in-cell touch layers.
- Atomic layer deposition: Temporal batch ALD already yields single inorganic layers whose intrinsic WVTR exceeding requirements. These processes are however slow and unproductive since half-cycles are time separated. Today, many are developing roll-to-roll spatial ALD in which half cycles are separated in space. These promise to yield high performance thin films without compromising TACT time. This is a developing technology frontier where multiple pioneering challenges with machine and process designs are yet to be overcome. Despite this, s-ALD will remain a strong technology contender either as a hybrid in an MLB structure or as a stand-alone layer.
- Flexible glass: This technology promises excellent barrier performance, high temperature processing and chemical stability. It is however not as flexible as others and remains difficult to handle given that it can shatter, a major problem in vacuum systems. Significant progress is however being made in terms of supressing stress and improving handling. Questions about final cost and volume availability also still hang over this technology which was first introduced to the market almost a decade ago. Despite this, our assessment is that patient development with a long-term strategy will ultimately bring major success, positioning flexible glass as a high-performance substrate-and-barrier-in-one choice.
The figure above shows our market forecast, split by technology, in $M. Note that exact figures are available in the report. Further note that the order in which the legend is shown does not correspond sequentially to the figure. For more information consult our report.
Displays: First major success for inline TFE came around 2014 when it was used in rigid plastic OLED phones. This technology is now being readied for bendable displays too. Our report forecasts the market for barrier technologies in plastic and flexible OLED displays. This is a significant market. Indeed, flexible displays are finally on the cusp of commercialization, likely creating a long-lasting new technology paradigm.
How large will these markets be in sqm and value terms? Inline TFE will dominate in flexible small-sized devices but can it transition to large-area screens? And importantly how will the inline TFE technology itself adapt in terms of materials and processes for top and bottom barriers?
- Quantum dot displays: Quantum dot (QD) enhancement films are a commercial success. Their main competitor- edge optic QD- is basically obsolete. In addition, a transition away from toxic Cd based QDs has taken place, thus lifting the legislative cloud of uncertainty from over the industry.
But many questions abound: will continued improvements in QD air stability relax barrier performance requirements, thus shrinking the market in value terms? QD displays will grow but can film-type integration keep its monopoly, or will it be replaced by other approaches such as color filter or on-chip type QDs? In total, how large will the market be in sqm and value terms? Who are the key players today?
- OLED lighting: The challenges facing OLED lighting are significant: large area, high brightness and long life organic devices with low defect tolerance. Furthermore, its rival technology, inorganic LEDs, arrived first and established a challenging price and performance market reference. Despite this OLED lighting is still making progress. Its scale up, in sheet-to-sheet (S2S) evaporated production, has reached Gen5 level. Factory investment in wide-format R2R production has also been made some years ago.
But given the challenges, will OLED lighting ever be commercialized? If so, what is the likely market size in short-, medium- and long-terms? Given the cost and size requirements, which barrier technologies are being used now and which will win in the future? Who are the key players today?
Organic photovoltaics (OPVs): OPVs long had a seductive value proposition but reality has been harsher so far. The first companies fanned the flames of hype to raise funds but struggled to raise efficiency and cut costs. In the process, they made many mistakes such as basing their production on an existing large-sized printer that could not be adopted and optimized. In parallel, others took the patient approach of spending time to learn to process on pilot sized machine- be it solution processing or R2R evaporation- before recently embarking on scale-up which entails the development of custom equipment.
What is the past, present and future of OPV technology? Will OPVs ever become a commercial reality? If so, how large the market for barriers is likely to become? Who are the current players today and what is their production set-up? What barrier technology will win and what will be its market size?
- Others: There are several other applications of flexible barrier films including other flexible photovoltaics such as CIGS and flexible electrophoretic displays. These applications have very different requirements to displays and lighting, and such as such will require different barrier solutions. Read our report to learn about the status of these applications and understand barrier uses/trends.
The market for barrier films and inline thin film encapsulation split by end user market. Here we show the market M sqm. Note that the shape of the figure, i.e. the relative contribution of each application, will look very different if the figure is in SM, reflecting the wide difference is barrier costs per sqm depending on applications. The exact values are contained in the report. Further note that the order in which the legend is presented here does not correspond sequentially to the chart.
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Table of Contents
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- 1.1. Why barriers and encapsulation?
- 1.2. Barrier performance requirements (permeation rates)
- 1.3. General approaches towards high performance encapsulation
- 1.4. The basis of the multi-layer approach
- 1.5. Status of R2R barrier films in performance, web width and readiness/scale
- 1.6. Challenges of R2R barrier film productions
- 1.7. From glass to multi-layer films to multi-layer inline thin film encapsulation
- 1.8. TFE is the technology of choice now for plastic and flexible OLED displays
- 1.9. Trends in in-line TFE: reducing thickness by cutting the number of layers in the barrier stack
- 1.10. Trends in TFE: Past, present and future of deposition methods
- 1.11. Atomic layer deposition for encapsulation technology: will it give rise to single layer barrier films?
- 1.12. Flexible glass: an assessment
- 1.13. Benchmarking different barrier solutions
- 1.14. Ten year barrier cost projections for various barrier technologies
- 1.15. Evolution of production parameters to enable multi-layer barrier cost reduction
- 1.16. Ten-year market forecasts in value split by barrier technology
- 1.17. Ten-year market forecasts in sqm split by barrier technology
- 1.18. Ten-year market forecasts in value split by application
- 1.19. Ten-year market forecasts in sqm split by application
- 1.20. Ten-year market forecasts in value split by barrier technology
- 1.21. Ten-year market forecasts in value split by application
- 1.22. Rigid, plastic and flexible OLED displays: market forecasts in sqm split by barrier technologies
- 1.23. Rigid, plastic and flexible OLED displays: market forecast value split by barrier technologies
- 1.24. OLED lighting: Market forecasts in sqm and value split by barrier technology
- 1.25. Quantum dot films: barrier market forecasts in sqm and value split by barrier technology
- 1.26. Flexible CIGS: market forecasts in sqm and value split by barrier technology
2. ENCAPSULATION - BASIC REQUIREMENTS
- 2.1. Barrier performance requirements (permeation rates)
- 2.2. Contextualising the scale of the performance challenge
- 2.3. Extrinsic vs intrinsic barrier performance requirements: the challenge for ultra thin single layers or large areas
- 2.4. Barrier requirements: minimising thickness
- 2.5. Barrier requirements: towards flexibility and rollability
- 2.6. Barrier requirements: transparency, chemical resistance, etc.
3. ENCAPSULATION - WHY IS IT CHALLENGING TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS?
- 3.1. Plastic substrates fall short of requirements
- 3.2. The aluminium cathode contact falls short on pinhole density
- 3.3. Diffusion pathways: causes of low impartibility
- 3.4. Diffusion pathways: correlation with pinhole density
- 3.5. Substrate surface topology: cause of imperfection
- 3.6. Barrier properties as a function of the thickness of the deposited film
- 3.7. Built-in stress and optimal thickness
- 3.8. Resistance to scratching/cracking
4. BARRIER INTEGRATION TRENDS
- 4.1. Evolution of barrier integration approach
- 4.2. Benchmarking the different barrier integration approaches
5. GENERAL SOLUTIONS TO ACHIEVING SUFFICIENT ENCAPSULATION
- 5.1. General approaches towards high performance encapsulation
- 5.2. Barrier films: will single barriers ever work?
- 5.3. The basis of the multi-layer approach
- 5.4. Multi-layer dyad based barriers: diminishing returns
- 5.5. Barrier films: why go multi-layer
6. ROLL-TO-ROLL ULTRA-HIGH PERFORMANCE MULTI-LAYER BARRIER FILMS
- 6.1. Companies reviewed in this chapter
- 6.2. Vitex (Samsung) - the PML process
- 6.3. Vitex (Samsung)- multilayers and dyads
- 6.4. The multilayer barrier and the Vitex flexible glass
- 6.5. Vitex (Samsung)- transitioning to inline
- 6.6. Vitex - hybrid encapsulation and Samsung acquisition
- 6.7. GE - graded barrier
- 6.8. GE - graded barrier - Sabic acquisition
- 6.9. POLO - Fraunhofer
- 6.10. Fraunhofer's R2R multi-layer barrier film
- 6.11. 3M's R2R ML barrier film
- 6.12. All Inorganic R2R Barriers from Vitriflex
- 6.13. Konica Minolta's in-house barrier technology
- 6.14. OptoCapTM Barrier From Aixtron
- 6.15. Holst Centre/TNO R2R SiNx PECVD Barrier
- 6.16. Applied Materials (AM) R2R PECVD
- 6.17. ITRI: Replacing PECVD SiNx in barrier layer with R2R solution coated inorganic layer
- 6.18. Opteria: commercialising multi-layer barrier with solution coated inorganic layers?
- 6.19. Status of R2R barrier films in performance, web width and readiness/scale
- 6.20. Benchmarking different R2R process
- 6.21. Comparison of performance metrics for different encapsulation solutions
7. SUBSTRATES FOR R2R MULTI-LAYER BARRIER FILMS
- 7.1. How do common flexible substrates perform as a barrier film?
- 7.2. How does the choke of substrate affect barrier performance?
- 7.3. DuPont Teijin's Peel-Off Substrate
- 7.4. Benchmarking the properties of different substrates
8. BARRIER ADHESIVES
- 8.1. Barrier adhesives
- 8.2. Barrier lamination adhesives: area vs edge sealing
- 8.3. Barrier adhesives: 3M
- 8.4. Barrier adhesives: DELO - Henkel
- 8.5. Barrier adhesives: tesa
- 8.6. Transparent flexible barrier adhesives: Ajinomoto
- 8.7. Flexible barrier adhesive with embedded getter
- 8.8. What adhesive performance level is required
- 8.9. What are the reported performance levels?
9. IN-LINE DEPOSITED THIN FILM ENCAPSULATION (TFE): ALREADY COMMERCIAL?
- 9.1. TFE is the technology of choice now for plastic and flexible OLED displays
- 9.2. In-line thin film encapsulation vs other approaches
- 9.3. Technology trends: TFE vs. barrier lamination
- 9.4. TFE is the technology of choice now for plastic and flexible OLED displays
- 9.5. Hybrid film-inline approach?
- 9.6. In-line TFE: reducing thickness by cutting the number of layers in the barrier stack
- 9.7. In-line TFE: Past, present and future of deposition methods
- 9.8. In-line TFE: transition from shadow mask to inkjet printing
- 9.9. In-line TFE: process flow with inkjet printing
- 9.10. In-line TFE: transition from inkjet to plasma deposition of organics?
- 9.11. In-line TFE: transitions in inorganic layer deposition from PVD to PECVD and potentially to ALD?
- 9.12. Inline TFE: transition from rigid plastic to flexible OLED displays
- 9.13. TFE: arrangement for bottom encapsulation layer
- 9.14. Multi layer barrier for bottom barrier layer in flexible/rollable displays?
10. EMERGING APPROACHES IN INLINE TFE
- 10.1. Kateeva: succeeding where others failed?
- 10.2. TFE: single-chamber organic/inorganic approach (AUO)
- 10.3. ALD inorganic and plasma deposited organic layers (AP System)
- 10.4. CPT: low-temperature multi-layer thin film encapsulation
- 10.5. Tosoh: special PECVD precursor for thin high performance inorganic layers
11. ROLL TO ROLL ATOMIC LAYER DEPOSITION
- 11.1. What is atomic layer deposition?
- 11.2. Single layer high performance ALD barrier layer: batch processing
- 11.3. Temporal vs spatial atomic layer deposition: basis for speeding up the process
- 11.4. Roll to roll ALD: Lotus Technologies
- 11.5. Lotus Technology: achieving ultra-thin high-performance barrier with R2R ALD running at high web speeds
- 11.6. TNO: spatial ALD and its first success
- 11.7. TNO: innovative roll to roll spatial ALD
- 11.8. Using R2R ALD for CIGS PV passivation
- 11.9. Beneq: R&D spatial R2R ALD
- 11.10. R2R ALD: challenges with web handling
- 11.11. Pioneering web handling techniques for R2R production
- 11.12. Thin film encapsulation: ALD inorganic and plasma deposited organic layers
12. ULTRA-THIN AND FLEXIBLE GLASS
- 12.1. Flexible glass: an assessment
- 12.2. Flexible Glass is not a young technology
- 12.3. Wide size available now?
- 12.4. What is ULTRA thin flexible glass?
- 12.5. Why is that thinness range of interest?
- 12.6. Why are we interested: glass is an excellent barrier
- 12.7. Why are we interested: glass is highly transparent
- 12.8. Why are we interested: high surface smoothness
- 12.9. Why are we interested: high dimensional stability
- 12.10. How are ultra thin glasses made?
- 12.11. Limitations of flexible glass: flexibility
- 12.12. Can we improve the flexibility?
- 12.13. Handling: the Achilles hill?
- 12.14. Complex fast R2R printing already demonstrated
- 12.15. Can we cut the ultra thin flexible glass?
- 12.16. Flexible glass: commercial uptake in OLED lighting?
- 12.17. Summary
13. APPLICATIONS: PLASTIC AND/OR FLEXIBLE DISPLAYS
- 13.1. The early years of flexible displays
- 13.2. Flexible EPD suppliers in 2017
- 13.3. Flexible LCD
- 13.4. First step towards flexible: OLED on plastic substrate
- 13.5. The rise of plastic and flexible AMOLED
- 13.6. Plastic displays in mass production
- 13.7. Rigid plastic OLED displays use inline TFE
- 13.8. But fully flexible displays are finally coming?
- 13.9. Large flexible displays demonstrated by LG
- 13.10. From rigid OLED, to flexible and foldable OLED
- 13.11. Changes in touch technology for flexible displays
- 13.12. Market forecasts for rigid, plastic and flexible OLED displays
- 13.13. Rigid, plastic and flexible OLED displays: market forecasts in sqm split by barrier technologies
- 13.14. Rigid, plastic and flexible OLED displays: market forecasts in value split by barrier technologies
- 14.1. Performance and cost targets
- 14.1.1. Performance challenge for OLED lighting
- 14.1.2. Price targets as set by LED and other lighting sources
- 14.2. Sheet-to-sheet OLED lighting production
- 14.2.1. Current state of sheet-to-sheet
- 14.2.2. Existing Sheet-to-Sheet Lines: OLEDWorks in Aachen (ex-Phillips line)
- 14.2.3. Performance data for the OLEDWorks Line
- 14.3. Current status of R2R OLED lighting lines
- 14.3.1. Current status with R2R OLED lighting
- 14.3.2. Pilot Line 1: Fraunhofer FEP in Dresden, Germany
- 14.3.3. Pilot Line 2: Holst Centre in Eindhoven, Netherlands
- 14.3.4. Pi-scale: EU-funded joint development
- 14.3.5. Pilot Line 3: CEREBA in Tsukuba, Japan
- 14.3.6. Konica-Minolta R2R Factory in Kofu, JP
- 14.4. Issues affecting R2R
- 14.4.1. Not touching the front surface
- 14.4.2. Patterning
- 14.4.3. OLED lighting: lifetime is still a weak spot?
- 14.4.4. Will TFE also be used in OLED lighting?
- 14.4.5. OLED lighting market: will it eventually disrupt?
- 14.4.6. OLED lighting: Market forecasts in sqm and value split by barrier technology
15. ADDRESSABLE MARKETS: ORGANIC PHOTOVOLTAICS
- 15.1. Organic photovoltaics (OPV): the dream and the reality (so far)?
- 15.2. Basics of OPV operation
- 15.3. Typical OPV device architectures (single vs multi-junction)
- 15.4. Film morphology control (bulk heterojunction) is critical
- 15.5. Solution vs evaporation
- 15.6. Progress in solution processing so far (2010 TO NOW)
- 15.7. Progress in tandem cell evaporation so far (2007 to NOW)
- 15.8. OPV products and prototypes
- 15.9. OPV installations
- 15.10. Current status of commercial players and outlook
- 15.11. Market Forecast for Organic photovoltaics
- 15.12. OPV: barrier market forecasts in sqm and value split by barrier technology
16. ADDRESSABLE MARKETS: QUANTUM DOTS
- 16.1. What are quantum dots?
- 16.2. An old technology?
- 16.3. Snapshot of readiness level of various QD applications
- 16.4. Displays: benchmarking various integration methods
- 16.5. QD Technology and Market Roadmap (10 year view)
- 16.6. Ten-year quantum market solution forecasts in value segmented by 12 applications in displays, lighting, sensors, photovoltaics, and so on
17. DISPLAYS: ENHANCEMENT FILM OR REMOTE FILM-FILM QD PHOSPHORS
- 17.1. Film type integration: growing commercial success but for how long?
- 17.2. QD film needs to be encapsulated
- 17.3. Quantum Dots: reducing barrier requirements
- 17.4. Fujifilm: Novel honeycomb barrier for QD films
- 17.5. Glass based QD sheet in LCD displays
- 17.6. Quantum dot films: barrier market forecasts in sqm and value split by barrier technology
18. ADDRESSABLE MARKETS: FLEXIBLE INORGANIC THIN FILM PHOTOVOLTAICS
- 18.1. R2R photovoltaic production: what has gone wrong?
- 18.2. CIGS photovoltaics
- 18.3. Ascent Solar
- 18.4. Solarion
- 18.5. Global Solar
- 18.6. Barrier requirements for CIGS photovoltaics
- 18.7. Why CIGS need a barrier
- 18.8. Flexible CIGS: market forecasts in sqm and value split by barrier technology
19. BARRIER MEASUREMENTS
- 19.1. The calcium test
- 19.2. MOCON
- 19.3. Fluorescent Tracers
- 19.4. Black Spot Analysis
- 19.5. Tritium Test
- 19.6. IMRE
- 19.7. Mass Spectroscopy - gas permeation (WVTR & OTR potential applications)
- 19.8. Kisco Uniglobe
20. COMPANY PROFILES
- 20.1. 3M
- 20.2. Amcor
- 20.3. Applied Materials
- 20.4. Asahi Glass Company (AGC)
- 20.5. Beneq
- 20.6. Corning
- 20.7. Duskan
- 20.8. Encapsulix
- 20.9. Fujifilm
- 20.10. Konica Minolta
- 20.11. LG Display
- 20.12. Lotus
- 20.13. Meyer Burger Group
- 20.14. Mitsubishi
- 20.15. Nippon Electric Glass (NEG)
- 20.16. Tera-Barrier Films
- 20.17. TNO Holst Centre
- 20.18. Toppan Printing
- 20.19. Samsung
- 20.20. Schott AG
- 20.21. UDC
- 20.22. Unijet
- 20.23. Vitriflex