Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SmartLine (Smart in-line metrology and control for boosting the yield and quality of high-volume manufacturing of Organic Electronics)

SmartLine addresses the challenges that are faced by Europe?s industrial stakeholders that aim to bring the innovations in Organic and Large Area Electronics (OLAE) to the market, by the cost-effective manufacturing of advanced OLAE-enabled products in the application areas...


SmartLine addresses the challenges that are faced by Europe?s industrial stakeholders that aim to bring the innovations in Organic and Large Area Electronics (OLAE) to the market, by the cost-effective manufacturing of advanced OLAE-enabled products in the application areas of energy, lighting, displays and surfaces, electronic circuits, all (bio) sensors, wearables, ICT, IoT, etc. OLAE combines organic, polymer, inorganic and hybrid nano-materials in multilayer nano-structures that can be combined by large-scale manufacturing to conformable & lightweight devices with main applications for energy harvesting by sunlight (Organic Photovoltaic -OPVs) and light emission (Organic Light Emission Diodes - OLED for lighting), to name just a few.

However, currently, the faced bottlenecks and challenges to enable fast OLAE-enabled product commercialization include the insufficient control of the properties of materials and devices, inhomogeneities in their thickness, structure over large areas, low process yield, limited reliability and high consumption of resources, batch-to-batch and run-to-run variations in properties and performance, increased waste and high costs. These delay significantly the market acceptance of OLAE-enabled products.
SmartLine will address the above challenges and will provide practical industry solutions to achieve a strong productivity improvement for OLAE devices production. It will develop sophisticated non-destructive and robust in-line metrology and control solutions for R2R printing and OVPD processes for traceable measurement of properties and quality of highly integrated nano-layers and devices during their fabrication. This will enable real-time control on the process stability, properties homogeneity, material/device quality and performance reliability.

The objectives of the project are the following:
O1: Development of robust non-destructive metrology tools and methodologies (acquisition, modelling, reference), for the monitoring of properties (optical, electrical, etc.), structure (surface patterns), and quality of OLAE nanolayers in complex & highly integrated nano-scale architectures with high precision. These in-line metrology tools include: a) Spectroscopic Ellipsometry (SE), b) Raman Spectroscopy (RS), c) In-line Reflectometry (REF), d) Wavelength Scanning Interferometry (WSI) for surface features, and e) Eddy Current (EC) measurement system.
O2: Integration of in-line metrology tools in specific parts of unique R2R printing and OVPD pilot to production lines to enable closed-loop fabrication of OPV and OLED devices, that will enable better resource efficiency and increased device reproducibility, yield and productivity
O3: Development of robust feedback and control Platform (MCP) to connect the in-line metrology tools with the R2R and OVPD processes to achieve autonomous control of the manufacturing process and predictive/preventive corrections to the R2R printing and OVPD processes
O4: Optimization of manufacturing processes for OPVs and OLEDs and boost of process yield and device quality, in combination to reduced waste and process time. Validation of the reliability and quality of devices by demonstration to automotive applications (exterior, interior).

Work Performed

During the first Reporting Period (01/09/2017-28/02/2019), the partners have proceed according to the workplan and performed all foreseen activities with minor deviations.
The main results achieved so far, include the following:
- Successful establishment of the specifications for the Roll-to-Roll (R2R) printing and Organic Vapour Phase Deposition (OVPD) manufacturing processes, OLAE nanomaterials and device architectures and the metrology tools in terms of operation and measured parameters in order to achieve fast feedback to the process lines.
- Development and implementation of in-line optical metrology tools (SE, RS) and robust analysis methodologies .
- Design and development of a customised reflectometry (Ref) setup and a measurement control and analysis software.
- Development of novel sensors with various mounting options that are able to measure thin metal lines in-line during the fabrication by R2R processes by Eddy Currents.
- Development of a WSI system which can perform optical surface topology measurements on laser patterned OPV nanomaterials from the AUTh R2R pilot line. This has demonstrated measurement speeds of 2 s and the ability to measure stepped structures at nanometer accuracy.
.- Implementation of metrology tools to the R2R (SE, RS, EC, Ref) and OVPD (SE, RS) pilot lines. It was proven that these can provide significant information on the optical properties of the different OLAE nanomaterials and that it can be applied for the fast evaluation of the fabrication process and quality control in large scale applications.
- Development of a novel Metrology Control Platform that will interconnect the metrology tools under a common platform to receive information from the metrology tools and communicate with the process control of the pilot line


The project results during the 1st reporting period proved that in-line metrology is a prerequisite for the optimization of the manufacturing processes of complex materials, devices and products that consist of complicated architectures of sensitive nanolayers to build highly efficient devices. The progress beyond the current state-of-the-art consists on the identification and overcome of the technical and scientific limitations for the implementation of metrology tools for measuring such devices grown on flexible polymer substrates. The limitations and challenges in the adaptation of the metrology tools, related to the vibrations of the manufacturing lines, the tool adaptability in limited areas and the necessary investigations of the optimum locations within the process lines (without affecting the process and its speed), were successfully addressed. Moreover, the partners have proven that the targeted metrology tools can extract valuable information from the OLAE nanomaterials and devices with the necessary specifications in terms of speed and accuracy, which makes their integration in manufacturing lines viable and necessary.

SmartLine will optimize the OLAE manufacturing processes by adjusting key experimental parameters based on the feedback from the in-line metrology tools. This will benefit the manufacturing processes by strongly reducing batch rejections, waste of materials, used resources (in source materials, energy, etc.) as well as the trial-cases for new material batches and formulations. SmartLine will have a huge impact and will transform the manufacturing processes for Organic Electronics Industry and for other Industries as Thin Films, Electronics, Wearables, Energy, Automotive, Transport, Space, Health, etc., and incorporate them towards the Factory of the Future. The development of intelligent and digital nanomanufacturing processes that have the capability for in-line quality control of the properties of the fabricated materials and devices and the overall efficiency of the entire manufacturing process will unleash the huge potential of OPVs and OLEDs in consumer applications and will enable Industrial Growth in Europe. Also, such manufacturing processes will demonstrate a strong productivity improvement in regards to conventional processes that will enable them to remain commercially competitive for multiple application areas.
Smart in-line metrology and control for boosting the yield and quality of high-volume manufacturing of Organic Electronics
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