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$100M Raised to Manufacture Plastic Semiconductors

Photonics.com
Jan 2007
CAMBRIDGE, England, Jan. 11, 2006 -- Plastic Logic announced last week that it has raised $100 million to fund construction of the first factory to manufacture semiconductors out of plastic instead of silicon. The facility will produce flexible active-matrix display modules for use in portable electronic reader devices.

After 10 years of research, Plastic Logic was spun out of Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory in 2000. It has more than 60 employees at its headquarters and prototype manufacturing facility in Cambridge.

The company said it devised a low temperature, low cost way to use flexible plastic substrates as a base for electronic circuits, rather than using the more costly silicon wafers traditionally used in making microchips, and without the complex process of multiple mask-based photolithography steps. The new process can be used in a wide range of applications, including flexible displays and sensors, the company said.PlasticLogic.jpg
Plastic Logic's portable electronic readers, about the size of a standard sheet of paper, are created using plastic semiconductors instead of silicon, making them flexible.
“Even in this age of pervasive digital content, our research shows that consumers are very reluctant to read on laptops, phones and PDAs,” said Simon Jones, vice president of product development at Plastic Logic. “We still carry around enormous amounts of paper. However, people are making less room in their lives for the weight and bulk of paper and are becoming more sensitive to the environmental impact of printing to read. We believe there is a substantial unfulfilled need that Plastic Logic can meet by making digital reading a comfortable and pleasurable experience.”

The new facility will have an initial capacity of more than a million flexible display modules per year. Production will start in 2008 at a plant in Dresden, Germany, that will employ 140 people, Plastic Logic said.

The company said the electronic readers, about the size of an 8.5 in.  x 11 in. piece of paper, will allow users to buy and download books or newspapers from wherever they are if a wireless Internet connection is available, and the battery is designed to last for thousands of pages before needing to be recharged.

To fund the project, Plastic Logic recently completed a $100 million funding round led by Oak Investment Partners and Tudor Investment Corp. Existing investors Amadeus, which led the company's seed financing, Intel Capital, Bank of America, BASF Venture Capital, Quest for Growth and Merifin Capital also participated. The financing is one of the largest in the history of European venture capital, Plastic Logic said.

The company's other investors include Dow Chemical (US), Morningside (Hong Kong), Merifin Capital (Belgium), Nanotech Partners (an international nanotechnology fund established principally by Mitsubishi Corp. of Japan), PolyTechnos Venture-Partners (Germany), Siemens (Germany), and Yasuda (Japan). Other shareholders include Cambridge Display Technology, Seiko Epson and the University of Cambridge; venture finance has been provided by European Technology Ventures and European Venture Partners.

For more information, visit: www.plasticlogic.com


GLOSSARY
active-matrix
An OLED display that has an integrated electronic backplane as its substrate. Active-matrix OLED displays use at least two thin-film transistors (TFTs) to control the on-current at each OLED cell or pixel. The transistor circuits retain the state (on/off) and level (intensity) information programmed by the display electronics. Therefore, the light output of every pixel is controlled continuously, rather than being pulsed with high currents just once per refresh cycle, as in passive-matrix OLED...
photolithography
A lithographic technique using an image produced by photography for printing on a print-nonprint, sectioned surface.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
sensor
1. A generic term for detector. 2. A complete optical/mechanical/electronic system that contains some form of radiation detector.
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