Teijin Limited announced today that it has wholly acquired NanoGram Corporation, a Silicon Valley company specializing in novel nanomaterials design technology, to function as a U.S. base for the development of silicon inks with semiconductor properties and the processes to manufacture such inks.
Printable electronics, which are electronic components produced through the use of various printing methods, hold great promise for their ability to significantly reduce the cost of products such as thin-film transistors for liquid crystal displays (LCD TFTs) and solar cells. The market for silicon materials used these products is expected to grow to approximately 700 billion to 1 trillion yen by 2018. The Teijin Group has been aggressively developing technologies for silicon inks with semiconductor properties, aiming to commercialize products by 2017 and eventually acquire 80% of the market for these materials.
As a wholly owned subsidiary of Teijin, NanoGram will pursue its interest in expanding into the development of silicon-based nanoparticles, working closely with the Teijin Group's Integrative Technology Research Institute.
For Teijin, the capital tie-up also will facilitate the Teijin Group's penetration into the market for flexible devices developed with silicon-on-plastic technologies that are integrated with Teijin Group materials such as polycarbonate resin, polyester resin and bioplastics. Samples of silicon inks will be supplied to makers of LCD TFTs, solar cells and other devices, aiming to mass produce these materials for use in the printable electronics of these manufacturers.
The Teijin Group has positioned information/electronics and environment/energy as two of its four high-growth fields going forward. In February 2009, Teijin formed a technology development agreement with NanoGram to work on the optimization of silicon nanoparticles and inks and to develop processing technology to sinter silicon nanoparticle film at a relatively low temperature of below 200°C. As a result, Teijin has successfully sintered silicon nanoparticle film on a polycarbonate resin from the Teijin Group to fabricate the world's first such semiconductor device exhibiting superior transistor characteristics.
This technology also can be adapted for sintering on various substrates, creating a wide range of possible applications. In addition, the technology is expected to help reduce the weight of LCD TFTs and solar cells by over 50%, which will help to lower CO2 emissions when transporting these products.
"We have had great results working with NanoGram in the laboratory," said Ichiro Kobayashi from Teijin, and now the CEO of NanoGram. "Teijin is excited to couple its expertise with NanoGram's technology to capitalize on the expanding markets for flexible displays and printed semiconductor materials."
"Our nanoparticle manufacturing technology, and the materials we have developed using the technology, have proven to have superior functionality in a variety of applications for solar, flexible displays and printed semiconductor applications," said Dave Corbin, the former CEO of NanoGram. "What NanoGram needs to take those materials to market is application expertise and the ability to scale quickly. Teijin recognized the potential in NanoGram and its technology. It will be the company that takes us to the next level."