Wendy Jameson

Colnatec Partners with German firm for testing

Colnatec LLC, the Gilbert-based manufacturer of the only temperature-controlled sensors for thickness measurement of thin film devices, and Novaled, a world class provider of OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technologies and materials, will work together in a joint research and development project to test the performance of the world’s first heated quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) sensor system, “Tempe”, for device layer self-regeneration in continuously-run OLED production.

With the advent of organic electronics, the effect of temperature during deposition became a topic due to unique film growth variables of organic materials. The measurement of the physical thickness of an OLED layer (often on the order of nanometers) is a direct function of the temperature of the sensor and substrate being coated. Unless temperature is accounted for and equalized, thickness accuracy will suffer significantly, leading to inconsistencies as great as 50% per layer. Organic materials such as AlQ3 are not a ‘flat film’ like many optical films, yet other commercially available sensors treat them as such. Heating a sensor and controlling it reduces stress and relaxes the film, and also allows for ‘baking off’ accumulated material, thereby extending sensor lifetime, a critical factor for cost efficiency in long, continuous runs.

“Our film thickness monitoring system, “Tempe”, was developed to stabilize OLED device performances, for its material characterization capabilities, and for in-situ, self-regeneration properties,” says Scott Grimshaw, CTO and co-founder of Colnatec. ”At the same time, “Tempe” has the potential to increase run-time, decrease downtime, and significantly reduce overall costs. We are confident of outstanding results of our system in the continuous OLED production at Novaled.”

“OLEDs absolutely need accurate layer sizes, since without temperature compensation, the device performance is directly affected,” says Kai Gilge, Head of Novaled’s Engineering Division. “After positive pre-tests we are now about to implement Tempe in our continuously run OLED production. The new sensor system of Colnatec will help to speed up our development time for OLED prime materials for our OLED display and lighting customers.”

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