TNO spin-off Saldtech completed a second investment round to develop and build deposition equipment for manufacturing flexible OLED displays. The unspecified amount of capital is provided by Innovation Industries, an investment fund with close ties to research institute TNO and the Dutch technical universities, and BOM, a development company for the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant.
‘Sald’ in Saldtech refers to ‘spatial atomic layer deposition’, an ALD variant in which the substrate is continuously being led past reactive gas zones, thus gradually building up a thin film. In a regular ALD process, the substrate is stationary and by turn exposed to the gasses, with each exposure step separated by a time-consuming purge of the reactor. This is why spatial ALD, unlike ‘temporal’ ALD, is compatible with high-throughput techniques like roll-to-roll.
TNO originally developed the spatial ALD concept for the high-volume PV industry, resulting in the spin-off Solaytec. Independently, ASM International spin-off Levitech also marketed a spatial ALD concept. Now, TNO adapted its process for another application: flexible OLED displays.
“Saldtech has the potential to become the leading supplier in the display market,” according to Jurgen Van Eck, senior investment manager at BOM Brabant Ventures. “As such, the company will play an important role towards local suppliers.”