A Long Sought After Dream Technology
The Korean research team, led by Dr. Oh Hyeon-seok, has successfully developed the much sought-after core technology for producing cylindrical nano molds that are needed for next-generation semiconductors and displays.
This state-of-the-art technology, developed by the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) for the first time in the world, enables the high-precision mass printing of nanometer-scale patterns on large-area substrates for semiconductors and LCD displays and solar cells.
This technology, a trail-blazing feat that breaks one of the technological bottlenecks holding back the industry for a long time, is expected to transform the whole paradigm of mass-producing semiconductors and displays, thereby significantly contributing to South Korea taking the lead in the global market. On top of that, this technology is predicted to speed up the launch of next-generation products - such as wearable computers and foldable displays.
Here is how this technology works: cylinder-shaped large-area nanopattern lithography equipment, which combines magnetic levitation technology and electronic beams, and cylindrical nano-etching equipment, which is supported by plasma technology. This creates nanostructures on the surfaces of cylindrical nano molds.
Innovative technologies that enable the mass production of nanometer-scale patterns on substrates are required to churn out next-generation system-on-chips (SOC), high-luminance optical films for displays and next-generation solar cells. That's why European nations and Japan had strenuously launched cross-border joint research projects; large companies and research institutes around the world had taken pains to develop relevant technologies to no avail. Against this backdrop, KERI, a state-funded research institute established in 1977, came forward with this technological breakthrough, based on its ultra high-precision magnetic levitation technology that was acquired through the development of magnetic levitation trains.
According to the research team at KERI, its newly-developed nano molds can be directly employed in the following areas: next-generation semiconductors, displays, solar cells and counterfeit-proof bank notes. Relevant companies and institutions are now busy discussing ways to capitalize on this technology.
As for LCD TVs, layers of films can be replaced with one nanopattern special optic film, which will result in cutting down on the components needed for LCD panels. Films that can replace Dual Brightness Enhancement Film (DBEF), exclusively supplied by 3M, in particular, can go into mass production, thereby forestalling capital outflows, estimated at more than KRW 500 billion.
In addition, the mass production of polarized light filters and lenticular lenses - the key parts of 3D TVs that global display makers, like Samsung, Sony, LG, and Panasonic, have competitively produced at the tail of the movie Avatar 3D's mega success- will be made possible. This is likely to lead to achieving low prices and high penetration levels, which are required to jack up the market share of 3D TVs that are projected to reach US$17 billion by 2018.
Transparent thin-film AMOLED switching transistors, the key parts of transparent displays that appeared in the movie "Minority Report", can be produced in the form of large-area films, paving the way for the mass production of head-up displays (HUD)- used for airplanes, trains, and cars - and smart glass, also called smart windows. As a matter of fact, Samsung Electronics drew much attention by showcasing its transparent OLED laptop using transparent AMOLED switching transistors at CES 2010, a trade show held each January in Las Vegas.
Also, this technology can be utilized in producing counterfeit-proof products. If this technology is applied to the production of hologram patterns, it can help nip fabrication problems in the bud. As a result, this anti-counterfeit technology can be used to prevent the following things from being duplicated: plastic cards - such as ID cards, credit cards and corporate security cards- bank notes, gift certificates and luxury goods like designers' bags, cosmetics and liquors.
KERI, Vistec and Miryang team up in joint research projects
On March 31, 2010, KERI and Miryang, a city where KERI's Nanoprocessing Equipment Research Group is located, signed a three-party MOU with Vistec Lithography Inc., a global supplier of electron-beam lithography systems with annualized sales of around KRW 1 trillion. The MoU will promote the exchanges of human resources, technologies and to cooperate on future joint research projects.
The chief financial officer of US-based firm Vistec Lithography, Martyn Ansell, said, "The combination of Vistec's e-beam lithography technology and KERI's magnetic levitation technology will greatly contribute to upgrading large-area nanopattern lithography technology, regarded as one of the industry-wide challenges of great proportions. Tremendous amounts of value are waiting to be found, especially in the LCD sector. And, I believe that this is a great opportunity for Vistec as well."
On the other hand, on March 31, KERI held a seminar on its newly-developed technology for manufacturing cylindrical nano molds - which are needed for the mass production of next-generation semiconductors and displays- in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, in a bid to unveil its cylinder-shaped nano lithography equipment and plasma technology-based etching equipment that can print large-area micro/nano patterns of semiconductors, next-generation displays and solar cells.
Dr. Oh Hyeon-seok, whose research team at KERI has recently achieved the remarkable feat of developing the long sought-after technology for cylinder-shaped large-area nanopattern printing equipment for the first time in the world, said, "Keri has obtained technologies for cylindrical mold material processing, large-area cylindrical nano printing processing/equipment and large-area cylindrical nano etching processing/equipment. In the case of nano molds, 60mm versions will be developed by 2011 and one meter versions by 2013 so as to hasten the launch of next-generation products like foldable displays and wearable computers and to change the paradigm of mass-producing of semiconductor and displays."