12 May 2016
A disruptive technology firm based at Hexagon Tower in Manchester has set a new world record for flexible digital circuit performance.
SmartKem, a UK developer of organic semiconductor technology for flexible displays and electronics, has set the record for the speed at which its tru-FLEX semiconductor works in transistor form – helping to ensure the future looks bright for a new generation of conformal electronics for markets such as the Internet of Things or the wearable technology sector.
The technology firm has achieved frequencies above 500 kilohertz – the highest reported reading to date of this kind of technology.
SmartKem also says that with some minor adaptations, they will be able to achieve readings of well over one megahertz – meaning that the barriers to introducing printed electronics for RFID and NFC for instance, no longer exist opening the way to a myriad of new applications.
Steve Kelly, CEO and founder of SmartKem, said:
“These are exciting times. This is a great result and a testament to SmartKem’s world beating end-to-end capability in material and transistor expertise.
“This emphasises the enabling nature of materials innovation in driving forward the potential of flexible electronics, not just for application to smart, flexible electronics for the Internet of Things for instance, but also the unique position in enabling the growth of the flexible display industry.”
The technology works by using organic thin-film transistors to carry electricity on minute levels, which can then be applied to any surface, such as a very thin plastic or paper, to allow smart electronics to be built on a flexible surface.
Whilst thin film electronics has been established for 15 years, SmartKem’s latest breakthrough allows the solution coated production of electronics at low temperatures on almost any surface, enabling many new electronic products to be manufactured at low temperatures using high throughput production systems.
Michael Cripps, operations and finance controller at Fasset – which manages Hexagon Tower – said:
“This is truly fantastic news. Manchester is living up to its reputation as the centre for innovation in science and technology for the UK.
“SmartKem is exactly the right kind of tenant for Hexagon Tower – a creative and innovative company using scientific methods to break new ground and change the way we use and think about technology.
“By offering flexible laboratory and office space to firms like SmartKem, we are able to help tenants grow and thrive at their own rate, leaving them to research and focus on how they can help shape the world we will live tomorrow.”
Headquarted in St Asaph, Denbighshire, SmartKem originally took up space at Hexagon Tower in 2011, and recently expanded its technology facility which now occupies 8,000 sq ft to accommodate its growing team, which now stands at 30.
The 168,376 sq ft Hexagon Tower – the UK’s only vertical science park – was designed by architect Richard Seifert and built in 1973 for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).
The past year has seen existing multinational and SME tenants expand their presence the science park by 16 per cent, reflecting the current growth in science and technology sectors based in the Northern Powerhouse.