Plextronics, a Pittsburgh-based maker of conductive polymers, has signed a licensing agreement with Northwestern University.
The agreement will integrate Northwestern chemistry professor Tobin J. Marks' innovations into thin film and molecular breakthroughs into its Plexcore HIL, which is a way to make organic light-emitting diodes.
The OLEDs, in the form of a thin film of organic compounds, can be ``printed'' to make electronic displays such as cell phone and television screens. Plextronics makes inks used to manufacture the film. The inks are customized for each specific application or device.
HIL stands for a polymer-based ``hole injection layer,'' a development that Plextronics officials said dramatically improves the efficiency and lifetime of OLED devices. It also is a key focus of Marks' research work at Northwestern.
Electrons pass through the layer to get to the light-emitting polymer area.
Marks holds 80 U.S. patents and has published 790 research articles. ``Tobin Marks has made many seminal contributions in chemistry and materials science. His recent breakthroughs in HIL technology are no exception, and will be an important asset to Plextronics' HIL technology platform,'' said Timothy Swager, who heads Plextronics' technical advisory board. Swager is the head of the Department of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Marks said his research will help speed up the global communication of OLED devices. ``At Northwestern, we have developed cross-linkable hole-transporting and electron-blocking materials as effective components for OLED HILs. This allows for optimum device performance,'' he said.
In other news, Plextronics announced Sept. 13 that the company is a runner-up for the 2006 Wall Street Journal Innovation Award in Materials and Other Base Technologies.