Skip to content Skip to navigation

Materials and Processes for Flexible Devices and Electronics

Written by: 
Paul J. Clark, Ph.D.

Flexible electronics encompass a broad range of technologies that impact emerging applications. These applications have generated significant interest due to potential commercial opportunities, which in turn has driven research and development in materials, devices, and scaled manufacturing methodologies. A variety of materials encompassing organic, inorganic, and composite nanomaterials will enable a range of new consumer products including flexible displays, LED lighting, solar photovoltaics, integrated circuits and data storage. The NSF Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing (CHM) at UMass Amherst, with support from the FlexTech Alliance and the NNN, recently held a one-day Symposium on Materials and Processes for Flexible Devices and Electronics in conjunction with the Center for UMass-Industry Research in Polymers’ (CUMIRP) Spring Polymer Event on May 16, 2013.

The symposium brought together a dozen experts from industry and academia to describe the latest in advanced materials and processes leading to scalable manufacturing methodologies for next generation flexible electronic devices. The speakers from academia included Professors David Allee (Arizona State University), L. Jay Guo (University of Michigan), Alex Jen (University of Washington), Alejandro Briseno (UMass Amherst), Kenneth Carter (UMass Amherst) and James Watkins (UMass Amherst), the symposium organizer. The applications side of flexible devices and electronics was well represented by William Burdick (GE Global), Dr. Slade Culp (UTRC), Dr. Kevin Dowling (MC10, Inc.), Ms. Carolyn Ellinger (Kodak), Dr. Antonio Facchetti (Polyera Corporation) and Dr. Michael McCreary (EInk).

The symposium was attended by more than 150 participants from academia, government and industry, with 50 companies and 10 academic institutions represented. Topics included:

  • Nanoarchitecture control for photovoltaics (PVs)
  • Material design & device engineering for polymer PVs
  • Roll-to-roll (R2R) nanomanufacturing processes for displays & PVs
  • Printed & hybrid flexible electronics
  • Polymeric semiconductors for printed opto-electronics
  • Conformal electronics for the human body
  • R2R nanoimprint lithography
  • Advances in electrophoretic display technology
  • Integration of high performance electronics into flexible packaging

More information about the speakers and their abstracts can be found at: The symposium provided attendees with a view of materials and process technology advances wherein inexpensive printing of high performance devices on continuous rolls of flexible polymer-based substrates, which promises to revolutionize future consumer electronics. A combination of emerging materials and processes discussed at this topical symposium will make it possible to economically generate multifunctional, high value-added technology products over large areas at high processing rates on plastic film, paper, or foil.