Veeco announced that is it going to acquire privately held Synos Technology who designs and manufactures Fast Array Scanning Atomic Layer Deposition systems (FAST-ALD) for flexible OLED displays. Veeco will pay an initial $70 million, and according to performance milestones, the total deal may grow to $185 million.
Veeco says that they believe Synos' technology will remove the barrier to adoption of flexible OLED displays. Synos' first pilot production system has been installed and the manufacturing ramp is currently expected to begin in 2014. Veeco says that in the future they also see FAST-ALD used in OLED TV, lighting, solar, batteries and other large adjacent markets.
Synos' FAST-ALD is said to be ten times faster than traditional ALD, and can deposit materials below 100º Celsius. FAST-ALD deposition can be used on substrates with virtually no size limitation. Synos’ patented linear reactor allows the chemical reaction to occur at the substrate’s surface.
Flexible OLED encapsulation is indeed a major barrier (ha!) towards efficient flexible OLED production. While many companies are developing flexible OLEDs, the two companies that seem to be closest to producing flexible AMOLEDs are of course Samsung and LGD.
Samsung officially launched their YOUM flexible OLED displays in January 2013, and it is expected that they will start mass production towards the end of 2013. Samsung's current encapsulation technology is Vitex's multi-layer technology which is very slow (the panel has to enter the evaporation chamber 6 times). Samsung is busy upgrading this technology, and they are also testing alternatives. One possible candidate for Samsung is UniversalDisplay's single-layer UniversalBarrier, and Samsung are evaluation this technology.
LGD also stated their intent to start flexible OLED production towards the end of 2013. The company never published their encapsulation technology. LG Chem is working on their own encapsulation technology called Face-Seal which will be used in their upcoming flexilbe OLED lighting panels. It's possible that LGD uses the same technology for their flexible displays.
There are several companies working on ALD encapsulation for OLEDs. The leading one seems to be Beneq. They recently signed an agreement with the UK's Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) to deliver an ALD roll-to-roll unit for their thin-film barrier development platform. The equipment will be delivered to CPI in England in Q2 2014. In September 2012 Beneq announced that a leading Asian customer has ordered a large-area batch ALD system. This system will be used to develop flexible OLED products.