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ISSN 1753-6677

Letter from the Editor With the completion of the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) at NETPark, the North East has a welcome addition to an astonishing array of scientific excellence. The Institute for Ageing and Vitality in Newcastle, the North East Stem Cell Institute, the National Industrial Biotechnology Facility at Wilton, and the Centre for New and Renewable Energy are just four of the region’s world-class facilities for science and innovation. And at NETPark itself, the Durham University Research Institute supplies instruments that have to be right first time every time to major telescopes around the world. Sometimes it can be easy to remember that the North East once led the world in certain industries and just as easy to forget that it still does – the spirit of innovation never went away, it was just transferred into different industries.

PETEC is the UK national flagship for printable electronics, a technology that could make the laptop I’m using obsolete and replaced with something I can fold up and put in my pocket. Technology that can print electronics into flexible materials will fundamentally affect how we interact with our electronic devices and will be even more disruptive than the iPod. Fortunately, the North East is ahead of the game – the location of PETEC at NETPark was an acknowledgement that we have the expertise and also the nous to translate that expertise into technologies that create new products, new markets and new jobs. Even though PETEC is only just becoming operational, the Centre, NETPark and Durham University have already saved 600 jobs from going overseas and it already houses two new companies. So the potential of this technology to benefit the region is enormous and that is what this issue of NETWorks celebrates.

Editor Catherine Johns Scientific Advisor Professor John Anstee Deputy Editor Rob Heslop NETWorks is published by Distinctive Publishing Ltd Aidan House, Sunderland Road, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE8 3HU Telephone 0191 4788300 Managing Director John Graham Creative Director Martin Williamson Sales Director John Neilson For all enquiries including editorial, subscription and advertising please contact Distinctive Publishing. With thanks to all our contributors. NETWorks is supported by NETPark Front cover image courtesy of IRIS. 01

GOING FOR GOLD... The Beijing Olympics vividly demonstrated that to win a gold medal it is essential to focus on a few areas where resources can be used most effectively. It is also necessary to measure performance against world standards and to have the infrastructure and the expert support people available who can help win the medal. It is the same for a region that wants to win the economic race. Here in the North East it is necessary to choose those industry sectors that have long-term growth potential and where the region can build significant competitive advantage. It is then necessary to consistently invest in the infrastructure required by the sector and to attract the people, companies and researchers at the leading edge. The measure of performance must always be against world standards. That is exactly what we are doing in the North East of England. The region’s Science and Industry Council selected a small number of areas to drive economic growth in the 21st century. One of these areas is Printable Electronics: NETPark and the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) is the focal point for investment in the sector, not only for the region but for the UK. PETEC at NETPark is a major facility for the development and exploitation of direct write technologies and flexible functional materials. This revolutionary technology is predicted to be a $16 billion industry by 2015 and could potentially be even more disruptive than silicon-based electronics. Printable electronics have inherent properties that classic silicon semiconductor technologies can never offer. Their flexible form means that they can be used to build displays and panels that can be rolled-up or laminated directly onto surfaces using low cost production facilities. They are already being incorporated into consumer products and will lead to a new generation of products such as real-time electronic newspapers, electronic tags, intelligent interactive packaging, handheld medical diagnostic devices, flexible e-paper for interactive ebooks, reports and advertisements, electro-textiles for smart fashion and sportswear and energy in the form of fuel cells, solar cells and batteries. What about an electronic book that can bend? A flexible display to hold patient medical records that can attach to the wrist of the patient? The label on medicine to flash when it should be taken? Curtains or wall coverings in your home that change colour based on your mood that day? Plastic sensors woven into clothing that can

monitor your temperature and health? A credit card with a display for adverts? These opportunities are not just for big multinational companies although many large companies will participate. The ability of this technology to change the way current products are used by consumers provides the smaller company a chance to compete in niche segments. It gives the North East the chance to grow smaller companies targeted at these opportunities. The change in design and functionality of the new products can lead to opportunities for the region’s design skills. Imagination will be the only limit to the possibilities. We want entrepreneurs to start thinking now about the new business opportunities that can be generated from this technology. We say to them, come to the incubators at NETPark to start your business and use the expertise and critical mass of PETEC to help you develop your products. We already know that this will be a major world industry. We also know that this is an area where the North East is leading the way globally and we must keep reminding ourselves that international competitiveness is essential. The NETPark Advisory Group and the CPI Board (which is the owner of the PETEC facility) are aligned in requiring that the new centre must be of international standard. The Printable Electronics focus of the North East must be able to achieve a reputation in the top three or four similar facilities in the world. Today it is our investment in the basic infrastructure that counts but in future it is our careful selection of the sub sectors where we can be in the top tier in the world that will make the difference. Going forward the NETPark Advisory Group will be keen to ensure that first and foremost the development of PETEC is always business led, that attractive and appropriate sub sectors are pursued and that leading universities from all over the world are active participants. We want major industrial partners to be involved but we are also keen to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit that this technology allows and we want many new small businesses to be created. If we do this, then the world will beat a path to our door and NETPark will be known as the place to do business in printable electronics. On that day we will have won the gold medal. Bob Coxon OBE Chairman, NETPark Advisory Group Chairman, CPI – The Centre for Process Innovation

BOB COXON OBE, CHAIRMAN, NETPARK ADVISORY GROUP Bob Coxon is a member of the Board of Directors of several international businesses in the chemical and process industries. He is a non-Executive Director of AZ Electronic Materials, a speciality chemicals supplier to the semiconductor and flat panel displays industries with manufacturing in Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, Germany and the USA. He is a non-Executive Director of PQ Corporation a Philadelphia based manufacturer of silicas, silicates, zeolites and catalysts. It is a global enterprise operating in 19 countries on five continents. He is a non-Executive Director of Stahl, the world’s leading speciality chemicals supplier to the leather finish industry with manufacturing in Holland, USA, India, Singapore and China. He is a non-Executive Director of Ensus, a company established to produce fuel grade bioethanol for the transport industry. The first Ensus plant, which is currently under construction on Teesside, will be the largest production facility in Europe. It will produce bioethanol by the fermentation of wheat grain.

Mr Coxon is a Senior Advisor to The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, with more than $89 billion under management. Mr. Coxon assists Carlyle in developing strategy and identifying investments in the chemicals and process industry sectors. He is based in their London office. He is also a Director of The Whitehall & Industry Group (WIG) a charity that fosters senior level relationships between major companies and Whitehall departments. In the North East of England he is Chairman of The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), Chairman of the NE Process Industries Cluster (NEPIC) that represents over 400 companies in the region. He is also Chairman of NETPark and is a member of the North East Science & Industry Council. Mr Coxon was awarded the OBE in the 2008 New Years Honours List.




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Experts predict the printable electronics sector has the capability of being a $7 billion dollar industry by 2010. In the latest of our quarterly NETWorks debates, a panel of leaders in this field lift the lid on potentially one of the most disruptive technologies to emerge in recent years. Mike Parker was in the audience. 05

PROFESSOR John Anstee wobbles a sheet of plastic in his hand, demonstrating its flexibility to the audience. At first glance it looks somewhat unspectacular - a thin, rectangular object. But, with a flick of a switch a warm light courses through the film and sparks tremendous enthusiasm and vigorous debate between the luminaries around the table. The former Senior Pro Vice Chancellor and Sub-Warden at Durham University is graphically illustrating an early prototype of printable electronics, a forerunner of what is widely predicted to be the future of lighting in our homes, our offices and our cars. This is printable electronics in its raw infancy, a technology that has scientists extremely excited by the sheer potential of its applications, scalability and disruptive qualities. The sheet is a light source, capable of bending and flexing, offering up no heat and needing only minimal energy to power its glow.

Professor Ifor Samuel’s light emitting bandage, referred to in the debate.


In next to no time, the debate has suggested, it could replace the humble barcode, revolutionise television manufacturing, provide a high-tech safety solution to prevent car accidents caused by tiredness and work as an optical bandage for the treatment of skin cancer. Professor Andy Monkman of Durham University, a specialist in research of light-emitting organic materials, adds that plastic electronics could even brighten our lives on the darkest of days: “You will be able to use it to make an umbrella light up so, when it is raining and miserable, you can have sunshine under your umbrella.” Its versatility is incredible, and thus developing its commerciality is a crucial next step. And, the North East is at the forefront of efforts to investigate its full potential. The North East Technology Park (NETPark), of which Prof Anstee is also Scientific Director, is home to the new £9.5m Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) that was created as the UK headquarters for the commercialisation of this technology. Owned and managed by the Centre for Process Innovation, the PETEC facility is an ideal platform for both start-ups and larger manufacturing companies to get prototype and pilot-scale production up and running, with the aim of de-risking industrial research and development in printed electronics. Its director, Dr Tom Taylor, is chairing the panel debate and he is convinced that printable electronics has the capability to re-industrialise the North East. He explains: “I think that the North East has revolutionised itself in the last 20 years from large manufacturing industries that, because of capital investments, could not adapt to what was happening globally, into a far more dynamic economy.” It is a sentiment echoed by Prof Anstee who says that having one of only four centres worldwide with the expertise in this area is a leap forward that could see the region revisit its past glory days when it was a world-leader in ship-building and steel making. He says: “Having a facility of this type is a major coup and perhaps for the first time since the industrial revolution the North East has something that is no longer playing catch-up.” But, it is one thing to identify a technology with great potential and it is something completely different to turn that potential into commercial reality.

Also sitting round the table in the Rivergreen Centre in Durham City, in the heart of North East England, is Geoff Williams of Thorn Lighting who is heading a £3m+ project investigating ways to make solid state lighting a mass-use solution for the future. The environmental benefits, including the ability to run lighting from low voltage DC batteries as opposed to 240v mains, will give the opportunity to “think of lighting in a different perspective”, he points out. “Lighting from the point of view of long life time, low maintenance, thin products, mercury free devices with low material usage and zero landfill contribution. “The opportunities are significant for those who have the expertise and knowledge. Having that in County Durham is a distinct benefit.” Dave Wall of DuPont Teijin Films, makers of plastic film whose global R & D facilities are based at Wilton on Teesside, is another person passionately engaged by this subject. DTF is developing products for use in the printable electronics supply chain and Mr Wall sees growth in areas that provide the customer with a new experience. “The first types of applications will be those that allow you to do something with this technology that you cannot do with present technology,” he points out. One hot topic in the gadget world is the development of e-readers – plastic displays capable of storing thousands of books at one time that simulate an invention that has been around for many centuries. Has it the potential to replace paper, asks Dr Taylor? “No”, is Mr Wall’s straight-forward answer. However, the ability to take one e-reader on a plane with a library of books rather than face lugging a bag full of books is just one example of ways that he sees the technology will become embedded. Amid the excitement, the debate moves on to consider the threats to the development of plastic electronics. Prof Monkman says: “The main threat is like most threats, the incumbent technology keeps improving its performance. As long as the performance matches the requirements that end users need then we are fine. Ultimately, this is the most disruptive technology there is.” Mr Wall adds a practical observation: “It must produce at scale and in volume.” Yields would have to top 90% for manufacturers to start seriously to progress their products on to printable electronics.” Two companies have already opted to base themselves at PETEC to start work on this issue, one of which, PolyPhotonix, has enlisted Dr Williams as a specialist adviser. As Dr Taylor explains, to have companies already up and running at PETEC is a major step to keeping County Durham at the forefront of this technology: “We have got a head start in this area and we believe we have positioned ourselves to meet the challenges.” The next debate will feature nanotechnology and will be at NETPark in early November. If you wish to attend please email


HLBBshaw IS HERE TO PROTECT YOU “An incredibly knowledgeable patent attorney with the scientific expertise to help us make the most of the new Intellectual Property being developed in printable electronics.” That comment, made at the recent Printable Electronics Technology Expert Panel debate, came totally unprompted from one of the panel members. HLBBshaw, as represented by Dr Alex Turnbull, was the recipient of such high praise. Alex spoke to NETWorks about the company’s new presence at NETPark. Although a comparative newcomer to the North East, HLBBshaw is an internationally respected firm of patent attorneys. One look at the technologies they have dealt with tells you the depth of knowledge they possess – neural networks, ink jet in hyperthermogelling agents, wireless communications, plastic moulding, fuel cells and (my own personal favourite) crystalline hydrate forms of paclitaxel are just six of the hundreds of technologies that HLBBshaw has helped its clients to protect. Alex’s own personal technology experience is in commercialization of research from physics which makes him ideal to have as “the man on the ground” at NETPark. Alex is a senior patent attorney and joined HLBBshaw from Cambridge Display Technology (CDT) Ltd, where he was involved in the management of the company’s patent and trade mark portfolio. CDT was an early pioneer in the commercialization of polymer light emitting diodes and formed a joint venture with the Japanese chemical giants Sumitomo Chemical to create Sumation. CDT was recently bought out by Sumitomo Chemical, but that’s a whole other story. Alex subsequently project managed a three million pound joint development legal agreement between Durham University, Thorn Lighting and Sumation: Project Topless. This was the catalyst for deciding to have a presence in the North East. “HLBBshaw is a national company – we have offices all over the UK from London to Leeds. However, the explosion of new technologies coming from the North East drew our attention – we all know that the North of the country is innovative but the pace of innovation has accelerated during recent years. “We also knew that One NorthEast, the Regional Development Agency, had a very highly focused economic strategy which would mean significant investment in our sectors of expertise: process industries, healthcare, and energy. And that NETPark was going to be the location of the UK national flagship (PETEC) for a whole new technology platform, printable electronics, out of which would come new products in these sectors. So it was an obvious decision to come to the North East and NETPark and it’s been great to see the construction of PETEC progressing. Now there are companies in there and projects with multinationals, it’s even more exciting. There are also well established network groups – our favourite is the Bridge Club run by Caroline Theobald, and she has helped in making connections.”

And what about the competition? “It’s always something you deal with when entering a region for the first time, but I was already known for my work with Durham University and Thorn and, to be honest, I’ve been delighted with the welcome I’ve received. There is more than enough work for all of us, believe me!” (The editor of this magazine can vouch for this – every patent attorney she has met in the North East has been more than willing to co-operate with the new firm on the block. In fact, they may even do a workshop together in the future at NETPark on all aspects of IP protection – to keep informed, please email There was a high level of investment in the Thorn Lighting project but this is business as usual for HLBBshaw. And quite possibly the reason the firm is so successful. “People still underestimate the value of Intellectual Property. An interesting trend recently is that new companies, especially university spin out companies, are usually incredibly savvy about their IP because they get so much more support now. They know that the future of their company depends on proper IP protection. That future could be creating a product that creates hundreds of jobs in manufacturing therefore hundreds of jobs depend on that product being properly protected. Another version of that future could be that the IP is sold to a large multinational, in which case their bank balance relies on the IP being properly protected. Either way, they are certainly motivated. “And the converse is true – companies which have been around for years forget that their IP is valuable and needs constant monitoring to see who is operating in their field, what patents are being filed and, potentially, how technologies could be married together to create even more new products. Interestingly, the current economic situation has made many companies scurry back to this issue as IP tends to be the heart of a company’s value.” This is where HLBBshaw shines – patent prosecution is the mainstay of the firm and it has significant experience in dealing with difficult cases and successfully defending and enforcing its clients' IP rights. Being a UK and European patent attorney, Alex can advise on the drafting of patent specifications, patent prosecution, portfolio management, and opposition practice. What’s next for Alex in the North East? “In the short term, we are supporting the Durham University proposal for a Doctoral Training Centre in Plastic Electronics. This is being led by Professor Andy Monkman and if successful would mean around 50 PhD students providing the necessary energy and capacity to establish Durham and the North East as the leaders in plastic electronics. Many students go on to become entrepreneurs and HLBBshaw will be contributing to educating the students about the basics of innovation, IP protection and commercialization.” For further information, please visit or email Alex at

Project Topless stands for Thin Organic Polymeric Light Emitting Semiconductor Surfaces and is headed up by Dr Geoff Williams of Thorn Lighting. It’s a three year £3.3M project with an aim to produce a white light emitter from a single polymer. Alex is pictured here with John White, Knowledge Exploitation Manager of Durham Univeristy and one of the parties to Topless. 09

TALKING ABOUT A REVOLUTION Professor Andy Monkman, Director of the Photonic Materials Institute at Durham University, explains the science behind the revolution of printable electronics and why your mobile phone battery will soon last weeks instead of days. A new generation of electronics is starting to make its presence felt – electronics that can be embedded in a credit card as opposed to a computer, using organic semiconductors instead of silicon based transistors and memory. Organic molecules and polymers can be used to make simple devices such as displays to be used in mobile phones and PDAs. MP3 and personal video players are now starting to be made from organic semiconductors which emit light when current is passed through them. Very quickly, these Organic Light Emitting Displays are displacing liquid crystal displays at the smaller end of the market. Why this sudden revolution? These organic devices are simpler and cheaper to manufacture and, in the case of OLED displays, give much higher quality and rapid refresh rates, ideal for high definition TV. The benefits of using organic molecules and polymers stems from their ease of fabrication into thin film devices and the simple architecture of the devices. In the case of polymer materials, these can be dissolved in simple solvents and printed down, using ink jet printing to define the required pattern. The use of digital printing also makes the process infinitely reconfigurable and so very cheap for small niche runs and a wide range of product designs. Printing of semiconductors also is a low temperature low energy process and so manufacturing costs can greatly be reduced. For more complex devices, such as active matrix OLED displays for phones etc, small organic molecules are used, deposited by vacuum sublimation. This fabrication technique allows multiple layer structures to be built up very quickly, with each layer being on average only a few nanometers thick. For a 2 inch TV screen, the total screen thickness is dominated by the glass substrate on which the OLED is fabricated but still can be thin. As recently demonstrated by Sony, an 11 inch XEL-1 HDTV has a screen only 2mm thick. Organic electronics offers totally new design and fabrication methods, low energy, low waste manufacture, and incredible new opportunities to both SMEs and large scale multinationals. OLEDs are a fairly new discovery, dating back to work at Kodak in the early 1980s. Although there are many earlier reports of obtaining light from organic molecules by passing 1000s of volts through them, Tang and Van Slyke were the first to realise a proper ‘diode’ architect for their organic molecules such that they achieve light generation from only a few volts applied, using very thin vacuum deposited films. Their initial work was slowly picked up, mainly in Japan, but major advances came as Korea took up the technology. As with much of organic-based materials technology, specialist spin-out companies from universities have had the major impact: Universal Display Corporation in the USA discovered that the use of phosphorescent emitting molecules in displays increased their efficiencies from a few percent to over 20%, far higher than can be achieved with inorganic LEDs. Another company, Novaled in Germany, developed high mobility charge transport layers to efficiently channel current from device electrodes to the organic emitting layer, such that they have achieved record power

efficiencies of more than 150 Lum/W. To put this in context, the most efficient light source we currently have is the small diameter T8 fluorescent tube which can only manage 70-90 Lum/W. In the UK a complementary technology based on semiconducting polymers was developed, first at Cambridge University in the group of Professor Sir Richard Friend, before being taken up by a spin-out company Cambridge Display Technology (CDT). Unlike the OLED technology which uses vacuum deposition to fabricate the required thin films, the polymers are soluble and so can be deposited by a range of techniques to yield high quality ca. 50 nm thick films, such as spin coating, ink jet printing and gravure printing. CDT dominates PLED technology making major strides forward both in materials development and fabrication as well as device design. Last year the company was bought by Sumitomo Chemicals of Japan which is now developing the first products based on this polymer solution processing technology. Because of the great push in materials synthesis and purification, along with far better understanding of the photophysics of these emissive materials, device lifetimes now surpass a million hours for red emitters and more than 25,000 hours for blue. For display applications, power efficiency is vital. In the case of LCDs (which are of course a form of organic electronics in their own right) only some 5-10% of the light from the backlight emerges out of the front of the display, the rest is lost within the display as heat. This is why your mobile phones battery lasts such a short time. OLED based mobile phones will have far longer battery lifetime because they are much more power efficient, as well as lighter and thinner. As only low temperatures are required during fabrication, plastic substrates can also be used. This is an exciting development especially coupled with printing fabrication. Major research projects throughout the world are currently underway to develop this. In the North East DuPont Teijin and the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) are leading the way. Finally, with such high power efficiencies the use of OLEDs and PLEDs as white solid state lighting is very enticing. Combining PLED technology with printing onto large area plastic substrates is the holy grail and in the North East we lead the UK with project TOPLESS, led by Thorn Lighting in Spennymoor in a Government funded collaboration with Sumation CDT and Durham University. In America GE Corp is also very active in organic solid state lighting and has been the first to demonstrate large area lighting panels and more recently the world’s first reel to reel production of printed organic lighting elements, using Sumation CDT materials. Panasonic Matsushita and Konica Minolta in Japan are also very active in lighting applications. A step further back from production is the use of organic materials in thin film transistor applications. The main applications here are in back plane drivers for displays. For displays with greater than about 64,000 pixels, each display pixel has to have its own drive circuit buried beneath the pixel to actively switch the pixel on or off. At present, these back planes are made from thin film silicon deposited onto the substrate which is expensive and requires high temperatures, incompatible with plastic substrates. This is where organic materials step in. Several companies are currently ramping up production of first generation organic backplanes for E-paper device. These will be used as electronic books and newspapers. Plastic Logic and Polymer Vision (Philips) are busy setting up new factories to produce E-books using these back planes and electrophoretic E-ink displays. Many others in Korea, Japan and the US are also

PROFILE: PROFESSOR ANDY MONKMAN, DIRECTOR, PHOTONIC MATERIALS INSTITUTE, DURHAM UNIVERSITY Andy completed his degree and PhD at Queen Mary College University of London and then moved to a Lectureship in Durham in 1988. He is now a senior member of staff in the Physics Department at Durham University and Director of the Photonic Materials Institute. His research interests include organic light emitting displays, ultrafast laser spectroscopy materials characterisation, optical spectroscopy, and development of new spectroscopic techniques. He has published over 300 academic papers and is currently engaged in a collaborative research project with Thorn Lighting and Sumation CDT around the potential of organic light emitting diodes.

Blue PLEDs fabricated on a reel to reel process (GE Corporation)

First ever reel to reel production of polymeric solid state lighting, ‘the printed light bulb’ (GE Corp)

developing similar products. In the North East, research and development of new production techniques using printing and novel deposition is headed at PETEC at NETPark where companies and research groups will be able to test design concepts and novel materials for a variety of products including oTFTs for flexible displays along with Solid State Lighting applications and Organic Photovoltaic cells (OPVs). In Germany, the Fraunhofer Institute in Dresden has made great strides on the mass production of simple organic circuits, lithographically printed onto plastic substrates in a continuous roll to roll process, much like printing newspapers. Christened ‘sloppy electronic’ by Dago de’Leew in Philips, these circuits are aimed at very simple applications such as RFID tags, credit card chips etc., where many millions of units need to be produced rapidly at cost levels of less than a cent per unit. Roll to roll printing of organic electronics is ideal for this requirement. Much of the polymeric material development and supply comes from Merck, based in Southampton. The final area of major interest which is just breaking into production is organic photovoltaic cells. Here again the roll to roll printing of very large areas of OPV on plastic at low cost is the main driver. They would also be much lighter and cheaper than silicon PV cells so ideal for roof installation and third world applications where cost is vital if they are to be persuaded to

replace their reliance on fossil fuels. Two technologies are being actively pursued at present. Gretzel Cells, named after their Swiss inventor, combines organic dyes with titanium oxide particles into thin film solar cells. This mixture is printable and so again compatible with roll to roll fabrication onto plastic. Efficiencies as high as 10% have been reported in the laboratory, however current mass production techniques reduce the efficiency. G24I in Cardiff is the first to successfully commercialise this technology, offering an alternative approach to Gretzel, based on the polymeric semiconductors, very similar to those used in PLED technology. Konarka in the US is very active in bringing flexible polymer OPV to the market place along with Gretzel cell and hybrid approaches. In the North East, Durham University and PETEC aim to bring research and development of OPV to the region next year, as in the longer term this technology will play a major role in any high technology-based economy. ‘Plastic Electronics’ or more properly organic electronics is booming. Given the innovative production possibilities along with low energy and flexible manufacture, organic electronics will enable countries like ours to compete on a manufacturing footing with the likes of Korea and China because we can concentrate on lower volumes with more rapid response times and combine the UK’s design and innovation flair into our manufactured products.

Sony demonstrated a 2.5 inch VGA TV screen made on plastic, the world’s first flexible television

Plastic Logics early electronic paper reader



Professor Zulf Ali of the University of Teesside examines how printable electronics will speed up diagnostics in healthcare and the food sectors. There is a considerable demand for the creation of intelligent diagnostic systems that can provide, in a low cost and easy manner, chemical, biological and physical information about our environment. Such products will have use in a variety of areas including health, environment, security, and food. Work at the University of Teesside involves the development of intelligent diagnostic devices on common low cost media such as plastics using fabrication approaches that are amenable to large scale volume manufacture. In healthcare, simpler and faster diagnostics close to the patient, i.e. at the point-of-care, will improve patients’ quality of life as well as reducing the financial load on healthcare systems which are under increasing pressure due to the ageing population. Intelligent diagnostic systems will also aid the process of drug discovery to allow individualised treatments of patients rather than one size fits all. Food represents a further sector in which intelligent diagnostics can play an important role since food safety from the farm to the table is a critical issue for consumers. Food-borne infections remain a major public health problem. Food contamination can occur in many different parts of the food chain and can happen, amongst many other reasons, because of improper storage and poor cleaning regimes of processing equipment. There is, therefore, a need for an intelligent approach to monitor food contamination. Other opportunities include monitoring of food freshness and safety indicators as part of the food packaging.

PROFILE: PROFESSOR ALI Professor Ali obtained a BSc in Chemistry and subsequently a PhD in Instrumentation and Analytical Science from the University of Manchester. After a short spell as a Research Fellow at the University of Warwick he gained an academic position in the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Brighton. He Joined the School of Science and Technology at the University of Teesside in 1996 and is now Assistant Dean in the School with responsibility for Research and Innovation. Prof. Ali is the Project Coordinator for DVT-IMP and has interests in nano-microfabricated systems.

The development of intelligent diagnostic systems that have high functionality, are reliable and low cost, requires new volume-scale manufacturing techniques and/or the adaptation of existing approaches. These manufacturing techniques can be developed as part of batch and sheetbased processes or alternatively, for very high volumes, as part of roll-to-roll continuous processing. The manufacturing approaches include adaptation of clean room microfabrication technologies such as photolithography, wet and dry etching and sputtering. Other technologies that can be employed, in combination or independently, are laser microstructuring, embossing and additive printing approaches such as flexography, gravure, screen printing and inkjet printing to create the functional components. Such techniques are required to

embed a variety of components including conductors, resistors, transistors, light sources, photodetectors, optical elements and bioactive molecules. The integration of a variety of different processes is key to achieving reliable functional modules and devices. As an example of the work that is being carried out at Teesside, we lead the EU FP6 DVT-IMP project that is developing a point-of-care device to contribute to the diagnosis of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE) ( Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition where blood clots in one of the body’s deep veins, typically in the leg. DVT and the associated condition of pulmonary embolism, where the clot lodges in the lung, are the most common causes of unexpected death in developed countries. The DVT/PE point-of-care device is based on measuring the concentration of the d-dimer molecule found in the patient’s blood. High levels of d-dimer indicate a high level of blood clotting. The device itself comprises a metal electrochemical transducer on a polymer substrate onto which is immobilised a bioactive component to recognise the d-dimer. The electrochemical transducer is integrated as part of a microfluidic cartridge device that is used to process the blood. The microfluidic cartridge device is itself inserted in a reader device to carry out the test. The electrochemical transducers have been implemented using photolithography, etching and sputtering processes. The top layer of the microfluidic cartridge, which is used to handle the fluids, has been created using hot embossing and micro-injection moulding. In the case of hot embossing, the fluidic architecture is created by pressing, in a highly controlled manner, a metal mould onto a heated polymer substrate. The mould itself can be created using a variety of methods including micro-milling. The University of Teesside is able to create high precision metal moulds using a photo electroforming approach. The device will transform diagnosis of DVT - currently diagnosis is confirmed by an ultrasound test but this is expensive and can result in long time delays. The device being developed by the project will be able to indicate whether the patient is suffering unusually high blood clotting activity and so predict whether they may be suffering from DVT and speed him or her on their way for treatment.


POLYPHOTONIX: LIGHTING TECHNOLOGY RETURNS TO ITS BIRTHPLACE And who thinks manufacturing in the UK is dead when new manufacturing companies like PolyPhotonix are starting up? Richard Kirk, the previous MD of Elumin8, has founded an exciting high technology lighting company in North East England. PolyPhotonix will be located in the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) at NETPark. He has been supported, on a technical consultancy basis, by Geoff Willliams (Project Topless) to establish the company, a manufacturing business aimed at producing lighting product based on ultra thin films of plastics (polymeric organic light emitting diodes - POLED) which emit high quality white light. These films are thin, 1/2000 the thickness of a human hair and a 1kg bag (less than an average bag of sugar) will coat a massive 10,000 square metres. POLED technology is the first really big advancement in general lighting technology since the introduction of fluorescent tubes in the 1940s, and a return to the birthplace of the first electric incandescent light bulb, by the North East’s Joseph Swan in 1878. Timing is everything – and PolyPhotonix seems to be with the zeitgeist. The plastic electronics industry is at a tipping point. The

transition from laboratory investigation and research is moving to real applications and meeting real needs. PolyPhotonix has recently been created to demonstrate to the wider industry how to manufacture POLED devices in large volumes and with very high yields. This is a crucially important step and, without it, the industry will take far longer to come to market. POLED is effectively a flat printed light source. It can be printed to glass or plastic and is very energy efficient. A major advantage of the technology is the fact that being low voltage DC driven it is the perfect solution to light with renewable energy sources (PV, OPV, wind etc) that all deliver DC power. PolyPhotonix will be manufacturing devices for the automotive, architectural lighting and medical industries. These markets are attracted to the physicality of POLED being flat and eventually flexible. This means that it is extremely easy and cost-effective to update a number of applications – from displays within a car dashboard to the whole interior of the car itself. Designers will ultimately decide this as they start to use the new materials that PolyPhotonix is manufacturing. For further information, please contact PETEC on 01642 455340

Printed Electronics used in the interior of a Jaguar C-XF 200

PLED type printed electronics in use at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5, 2008

RADICALLY REDUCE THE COST OF SOLAR ENERGY Northumbria University is part of a consortium that has been awarded a major grant of £6.2m to radically reduce the cost of solar energy. The consortium is currently researching the materials that will help to make solar generated – or photovoltaic – electricity competitive with retail electricity prices by the year 2020. The £6.2m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is the second round of funding for the PV21 SUPERGEN consortium, which received £4.5m in 2004. The money will be distributed between the eight members of the consortium to fund a four-year cycle of research. The £850,000 funding to Northumbria’s Photovoltaics Applications Centre (NPAC) is to continue its investigations into introducing low-cost materials to the production of thin-film photovoltaic cells to reduce their thickness and help bring down their manufacturing costs. Copper indium gallium diselenide is the highest performance photovoltaic material currently used in thinfilm cells. However, over the last four years indium and gallium costs have reached up to $1,000 per kilogram. The costs of these materials make up over 30% of the price of the cells, posing a possible barrier to the competitiveness of this technology. The Northumbria researchers are working on reducing and replacing gallium and indium with materials that cost less than $10 per kilogram, such as aluminium, giving a massive saving in cost which could eventually reduce the price of photovoltaic materials energy by a staggering 93%. Dr Ian Forbes, the Principal Investigator for the project, from the Northumbria Photovoltaics Applications Centre, said: “The announcement of this new round of funding is fantastic news for both NPAC and the School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences. “It enables us to continue with our research and build upon the achievements we have made over the last four years to reduce the costs of thin-film inorganic solar cells. “These thin film devices are less than 100th of the thickness of crystalline silicon, which is currently the dominant photovoltaic material used in the production of solar cells. “Crystalline silicon currently makes up around 90% or more of the current photovoltaic industry. However it is now recognised by many in the field that the thin-film technology is the best route to bringing photovoltaic generated electricity to the commercial market, making it

competitive with retail electricity prices in the next 10-15 years. “Simply by reducing the thickness of materials, we have produced cells that deliver 70% of the performance of gallium free devices whilst using less than 40% of the material. “And using aluminium as an alternative to gallium, we have already been able to make the thin-film device using a scalable processing route. “We believe we are only the fourth group in the world to produce devices from this material and the first to do so using this technique. “In the renewed project, we aim to introduce the aluminium into the ultra-thin films to improve performance as well as investigating completely indium and gallium free materials.” Professor Peter Strike, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise), said: “The announcement of such a substantial grant is fantastic news for the Photovoltaic Applications Centre and the University. “The £6.2m award to SUPERGEN from EPSRC is recognition of the success of this hugely important project in developing sustainable energy production. “The large proportion of the grant held by Northumbria reflects the high academic standing of the team here at the University, and the real contribution they make to this project, alongside colleagues from some of the best research-intensive Universities in the UK. “The success of this project, and the continuation of funding, is a tribute to the quality of Dr Forbes and his team and a matter of considerable pride for the University.” The SUPERGEN initiative aims to help the UK meet its environmental emissions targets through a radical improvement in the sustainability of power generation and supply. The other universities in the consortium are Bath, Cranfield, Durham, Edinburgh, Imperial College, NEWI and Southampton. Northumbria University has been a leading name in European photovoltaic research for almost 25 years, providing expert research and consultancy services for industrial and commercial projects.


KEEPING OUR ENERGY SUPPLY SAFE AND SECURE GAS. It’s always there. At the flick of a switch, at the turn of a control. It’s there. Available to heat our homes, provide hot water, cook our food. To provide the energy which fuels our businesses. But how does it get to us; what journey does it have to make before it makes our lives so comfortable? Well, in northern England that’s all down to Northern Gas Networks, the company which distributes gas to 2.5 million users across the North East, northern Cumbria and most of Yorkshire. They have 36,000 km of pipes and mains, seamlessly delivering gas to where it’s needed. Homes and businesses rely on it for warmth, water and manufacturing capacity. Northern Gas Networks is a relatively new name on the industrial landscape. It was created in June 2005, taking ownership of the pipeline assets and associated equipment delivering the essential fuel of 21st century life. We all take gas for granted. It’s there 24 hours every day, keeping us warm and clean. And that’s the way Northern Gas Networks wants it to be. Their services are largely invisible – the pipes and equipment are usually buried safely underground. The only visible signs are the large gasholders at the edges of our towns and cities, which provide additional gas at times of peak demand – when you get up in the morning and when you’re returning home from work at teatime. You may occasionally see them blocking our roads, when they’re investing in our future replacing old metal pipes with the new yellow plastic ones. The inconvenience they cause can be painful, causing delays and frustration. But think what might happen if the old metal pipes were left in the ground, deteriorating over time until they were unfit for purpose.

new ones,” said Basil Scarsella. He’s the Chief Executive Officer of Northern Gas Networks. “We replace them before they start to cause any problems, before there’s any risk, to ensure that everyone can continue to take gas for granted,” he said. The company works closely with local highways authorities to carefully plan mains replacement works – they don’t like to disrupt people’s lives by carrying out the replacement work. “The next time you’re stuck in traffic, just think that the new plastic pipes going into the ground are to ensure you’re kept warm – and safe – in your home and at work. We don’t plan to cause any inconvenience, but it is inevitable that there will be some as we work to keep your gas supply safe and secure.” Northern Gas Networks has outsourced all operational activities to United Utilities, which works closely with a range of operating partners to replace the region’s population of metal gas pipes. “It’s not easy planning the replacement of more than 500km of pipes each year,” said Mr Scarsella. “But by working closely with local people, the councils and other representatives, we plan the work carefully and considerately. We put ourselves in your shoes, and that way get the replacement work completed quickly and safely.” And the company is responsible for delivering the 24/7 gas emergency service. “Our engineers are on call around the clock, every day, responding to gas emergency calls from wherever they are made in our region. Our engineers are highly trained and their role in life, like that of Northern Gas Networks itself, is to ensure that the safety of gas users is always safeguarded,” said Mr Scarsella.

“Every year we replace around 500km of old pipes with LEFT: Basil Scarsella, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Gas Networks MAIN PIC: This year Northern Gas Networks will replace 528km of old metal pipes with new polyethylene pipes across the North of England


AN EYE FOR SUCCESS IRIS Engineering and Technology is a company expert in project managing specialist facilities for high technology companies. Based at NETPark in the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC), IRIS is a new breed of technology consultants. Robert Preston, Managing Director of IRIS, spoke to NETWorks about how customer focus has been the key to the company’s success. Although a young company, IRIS has already amassed an impressive array of clients including Caterpillar, Newcastle University, Teesside University, Plastic Logic, Sanofi Avensis, Veolia, National Semiconductor and the Atmel building. “It’s our specialism – high-tech facilities for electronics include a myriad of often conflicting demands. The clean rooms at PETEC for example are essential to developing the new technology of printable electronics but they place a whole different set of demands on a building than ordinary laboratory space. “It may sound obvious but clean rooms require a totally “clean” environment: for example the amount of particulates such as dust in our living rooms is between 1 & 5 million per m3 @ 0.5 micron. In a class 100 clean room that drops to 3520 per m3 @ 0.5 micron. So mechanical and electrical engineering systems to support clean rooms are complex, with factors such as high level of extraction to take into consideration.” It doesn’t stop there of course – there’s the human factor to consider. Humans going back and forth between clean rooms and laboratories could potentially take with them huge amounts of particulates in the form of dust, skin cells, and exhaled particles. Hence the pictures of scientists all wrapped in white suits. IRIS takes care of that aspect too. “Yes, humans can contaminate the clean room environment and destroy valuable experiments and development work if entrance and exit is not strictly controlled. But it’s also about protection. Clean rooms are often used for developing such technologies as nanotechnology and so health and safety policies that are strictly enforced are essential. “When we first started, we decided that we would make it easy for clients and manage the whole process for them if they wished. Yes, we can design high tech facilities but we can also manage the installation, oversee

the development of associated policies of use of the facilities, and manage the entire facility on an ongoing basis.” This focus has led IRIS to expand rapidly. IRIS had previously worked for the owners of PETEC (then Cenamps, now merged with CPI) on a clean room project at Newcastle University. The work included Concept Design, Project Management, Planning Co-ordinator and Specialist Detailed Design. This package of works encompassed the whole ethos of IRIS in that the company employs a team of professionals who can cover many differing aspects of a project under one contract and as such offers the client significant cost and communication benefit within a project scope. IRIS was successful in securing the contract after competitive tender, and the works were completed successfully in cooperation with the University Estates Team. This was the first contract of this nature undertaken with the University and surpassed the expectations of all concerned. To complete the set of services on offer to clients, IRIS also offers environmental services which include energy management to reduce costs, and specialist waste management which takes care of potentially hazardous waste. While customer focus has always been a cornerstone of the company, IRIS has kept up with the times. IRIS also offers climate change, carbon footprint and emission trading audits to help clients become more sustainable and more aware of their impact on the environment. What else does the future hold for IRIS? IRIS is a company that is already benefiting from the Printable Electronics Technology Centre. Having worked on a number of such flagship projects, the company is planning to take on another eight members of staff by the end of the year. “Now we’ve worked on projects like PETEC and the Atmel building, we are further developing our client base in this area. We would wish to be partner of choice for any regional business that is looking for a company that can add value to its business, be it in the construction or expansion of a facility to the introduction of an environmental\energy policy to enable focused energy awareness with bottom line savings.” For further information, please visit


NETPark is North East England’s science, engineering and technology park for the commercialisation of cutting edge R&D. Companies thrive at NETPark because of: ■ State of the art facilities and room to grow on a prestige site ■ Low operating costs ■ Excellent transport links ■ A skilled workforce Companies at NETPark have access to cutting edge research from five universities within 30 minutes drive and tailored business support that enables them to achieve their potential. They are part of a like-minded community that enables each company to flourish, grow and compete with the best in the world. NETPark’s focus is on the physical sciences, particularly printable electronics, microelectronics, photonics, nanotechnology, and their application in the fields of energy, defence, and medical-related technologies. 13 hectares (Phase 1) are already fully serviced and another 3 hectare area is in the process of being made available.

From green fields to dynamic science park in next to no time

The first building, the NETPark Research Institute was opened in 2004. 2200 sq m specifically designed for R&D and low volume complex equipment prototyping and manufacture. Leased to Durham University for two world-class research groups: the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation and the Semiconductor Crystal Growth and Ceramics Group.

Phase 1 of the NETPark Incubator followed a year later. 1600 sq m of office, work and laboratory space and meeting rooms. Already 100% full.

NETPark is developed by a partnership led by Durham County Council including Sedgefield Borough Council, One NorthEast and all 5 regional universities. Management and promotion of NETPark is in the hands of County Durham Development Company, Durham County Council’s inward investment arm. Helios City is the preferred developer for Phase 1. For more information, visit or email

This year NETPark will be the fastest-growing science park in the UK. Construction of the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) is now complete.

The Innovation Village will also commence this year. 5 bespoke R&D pods for growing and/or investing companies, developed by Helios City. The total size will be 2500 sq m units in multiples of 250 sq m

Phase 2 of the NETPark Incubator is on schedule. Total projected size 2252 sq m, funded by Durham County Council, One NorthEast and ERDF.

A 3,000 sq m national flagship facility for the development and exploitation of direct write technologies and flexible functional materials (FFM); revolutionary technology that independent forecasts predict will be a $16 billion industry by 2015. Managed by CPI, the centre is 1 of only 4 currently being built in the world.



REVOLUTIONISING THE LIGHTING INDUSTRY Eighteen months ago, Dr Geoff Williams and his team embarked on a major project to revolutionise the lighting industry. Mike Parker discovers that halfway through the three-year investigation, things are hotting up. THE scientific world is littered with the debris of great races to plant the first flag in a particular technological revolution. For every VHS, there is a Betamax. The successors have lived on in our daily lives, the losers become but a distant memory. In the lighting industry, just such a technological battle is shaping up that will have a profound impact on the way we illuminate our lives. Two giants of the market, Philips and Zumtobel, are battling head-to-head to produce next generation light sources – and they are using very different methods to meet that end goal. Dr Geoff Williams of Thorn Lighting, a subsidiary of Zumtobel, is the creator and leader of Project Topless (Thin Organic Polymeric Light Emitting Semiconductor Surfaces) which is producing a single polymeric material that will emit white light. In layman’s terms, it is an ultra-thin sheet of plastic topped with a conductive layer that is 1/2000th the width of a human hair which, when electricity is passed through it, is capable of producing light similar to sunlight. Thorn, based in Spennymoor, County Durham, is the UK’s largest lighting manufacturer and Dr Williams has teamed up with photonics research experts from Durham University and Sumation, a joint venture between Cambridge Design Technologies and Japanese company Sumitomo. The competition, led by Philips, is a 20-strong collaborative group working on the OLLA (Organic LED technology for Lighting Applications) project. Where Topless aims to produce a single layer solution, OLLA is more complicated and uses small molecules in multi-layer structures. The former uses relatively simple printing technology, whilst the Philips version requires molecules be deposited under high vacuum. Topless started behind OLLA but has since eclipsed it in quality of light produced. Dr Williams says: “Topless is performing extremely well. We didn’t have a single white light-emitting polymer when we started and over the last 18 months we have developed a high-quality single lightemitting polymer with an output efficiency of 15-16 lumens/watt and that is without outcoupling (optimising the efficient extraction of light from the device).

“Our materials are eminently exploitable and can compete on a like-for-like basis with any other product at this time. Nothing in the OLLA project has given us cause for concern.” As with all emerging technologies, the ability to turn exciting laboratory developments in to commerciallyviable products is the key. It has to be reliable, scalable and produced at a price consumers are prepared to pay. Topless is now at the stage where it is ready to start stepping out of the lab and into the manufacturing plant, but this may take a little while to happen. Dr Williams explains: “Unfortunately, we do not yet have the capability to do small volume manufacturing production at this time. But, this will soon change – watch this space! “It really is an exciting time in this technology platform and it is equally exciting for County Durham. There is nothing like this in the northern hemisphere and you would be hard pushed to see it in the Far East either. It is a unique technology business opportunity.” Efforts to begin small-scale manufacturing have been greatly helped by the completion of the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) at the North East Technology Park (NETPark). The £9.5M facility is one of only four centres worldwide with the capability to provide prototype manufacturing for printable electronics. It is also a significant reason for Zumtobel investing in the Thorn and Topless project in County Durham, having previously considered moving operations to Eastern Europe. One of the first tenants at PETEC is a company called PolyPhotonix which has already enlisted Dr Williams as a scientific adviser. Once established, it will be in a position to start the prototyping process. Dr Williams explains: “PolyPhotonix will effectively build a pilot manufacturing line to demonstrate the scale-up capability of Topless out of the research laboratory and in to a manufacturing environment. It won’t have the ability to produce high volume but it will have the ability to derisk the technology for the next stage which will be high volume manufacturing.”

Durham’s laser laboratory

In addition to plans to begin small-scale manufacturing, Dr Williams’s team is also looking at alternative metals that it can use to replace indium tin oxide, a transparent conductive coating used in displays and other applications that is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. Project Topless is working with glass manufacturer Pilkington to discover alternative metals that will give enhanced performance. For a man that is North East born and bred, the technological innovation that is occurring 30 miles from the place where Joseph Swan first demonstrated his electric lightbulb is deeply satisfying for Dr Williams. He says: “We are bringing a high-tech manufacturing base into a region which has a strong heritage in this area. We are basically turning the wheel. Instead of manufacturing going offshore to low wage countries there is an opportunity to set up successful new manufacturing technologies here in the UK.” Despite Project Topless being only halfway through its three-year lifespan, Dr Williams is already having to consider the next phase and where to secure funding. Fifty per cent of the funding for the current progamme was secured under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Technology Programme which invests directly in new and emerging technologies and has been designed to help businesses work collaboratively with academic partners. He is hopeful that the board can be persuaded to invest further in taking the technology the extra step necessary to make it truly commercially viable. Dr Williams is also working closely with the likes of the County Durham Development Company (CDDC) – which manages NETPark on behalf of Durham County Council - and CPI.

There is a strong argument for such investment. The environment has become a main staple of the political agenda rather than the fringe issue it once was. Artificial lighting accounts for between 20-25% of all electricity consumption and the work Topless is doing on conduction has the ability to reduce that consumption by tenfold – dropping the amount of energy consumed by lighting to a mere 2% working off a simple DC battery. Furthermore, it is incredibly long-lasting and a single kilogram of active material is capable of coating ten million square metres of device. The overall environmental impact of this is clear. Not only will it reduce energy consumption, it will also reduce waste, cut packaging and shrink the carbon footprint of companies. Running alongside Topless is another significant research project. A coalition between Thorn, DuPont Teijin Films and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is working on a near £1m experiment to develop polyester film with a protective cover capable of commercialisation. ENTALS – or Encapsulated Technologies for Advanced Lighting Systems – is another three-year project that will compliment work carried out under Project Topless. All told, the technological advances being made in County Durham are setting pulses racing for experts in the field. The added frisson of competition only heightens that excitement. It is too early yet to tell which technology will be the winner - or, for that matter, if only one will win out. However, it is fair to say that Project Topless is in incredible shape and, with the regional support and worldleading developments such as PETEC, it is on course to transform the way we light our lives in the future.


25cm light emitting panel

In terms of volume, PolyPhotonix will be looking to produce between 3,000 to 6,000 square metres of solid state lighting a year. This production is expected to multiply exponentially to three to six million square metres a year in high volume production. Dr Williams anticipates production will start within the next 12 months and expects high-volume manufacturing to be a possibility by the start of 2011.


USING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY TO HELP YOU SURVIVE DIFFICULT TIMES Scarcely a day passes without another press report containing bad news about the state of the economy. The current difficult situation presents challenges for companies developing new technological products, in addition to those faced by any business. Regardless of the level of confidence in the economy, companies developing new technology are subject to the cost of raw materials and labour, and must often face competition from companies based in countries where labour costs are significantly less than in the UK. In addition, significant managerial and financial resources need to be committed to research and development. The recent increases in the cost of raw materials and energy, and the increased difficulty of obtaining finance will have made it more difficult for many such companies to compete. On top of this, reduced consumer confidence can have the effect of reducing the number of available customers, who may also be targeted by competitors. What can such companies do to help get through the present economic difficulties? One way is to develop new and innovative technology and to use the intellectual property system to protect that technology from competition. This is all fine in theory, but obtaining the necessary intellectual property rights to enforce against a competitor inevitably involves cost, and any additional cost is unwelcome in the present climate. Worse still, failure to protect new products could have serious consequences when customer confidence recovers. Here we present some tips on how to use the patent system more cost effectively to try to avoid this. The following relates to patents, since these offer the most valuable form of intellectual property protection for companies developing technical products, because they protect inventions which consist of technical improvements over the prior art. Other intellectual property rights such as copyright, unregistered design right, trade marks, registered designs and know-how may also be useful to companies developing technical products, but these are generally of most use in addition to, rather than instead of, patents, and therefore are not discussed in detail here. It is fair to say that in the process of instructing a patent attorney to prepare an application for a patent, most of the cost is represented by the patent attorney’s time in drafting the patent application. It follows that if some of the attorney’s time can be saved, then cost savings should

follow. Here are some cost-free steps you can take before instructing a patent attorney which should result in significant cost savings when applying for patents. 1. Do your own prior art search In order to be patentable, an invention must be new compared with anything made available to the public, anywhere in the world, before the date of applying for a patent. Information made available to the public in this way is known as prior art. Often, companies apply for patents before carrying out a search to determine whether their inventions are new, mainly in order to prevent the time taken to do a search from delaying the filing of the patent application. The UK Intellectual Property Office or the European Patent Office will carry out a prior art search after the patent application has been filed. If the invention is then shown not to be new, the cost of preparing and filing the patent application has been wasted. The risk of wasting resources in this way can be reduced, by carrying out your own prior art search on one of the excellent free databases available, such as Espacenet provided by the European Patent Office (, or the search database of the US Patent and Trademark Office ( A search carried out in this way is less likely to find relevant prior art than one carried out by a firm of full time searchers, but you may find the piece of prior art which will prevent you obtaining a patent before you have spent valuable resources on applying. In practice, a prior art search will show that an invention is not new if it produces a single document disclosing all of the features of your invention. If no single document showing all of the features of your invention is located, then the invention is, as far as you are aware, new. 2. Consider whether your invention is inventive As well as being new, an invention must involve an inventive step in order to be patentable. This means that the invention must not be obvious to a person skilled in the art, when compared with the single most relevant item of prior art. Let us suppose that you carry out a prior art search using one of the free databases mentioned above and find one or more documents which describe some, but not all, of the features of your invention, and which are more relevant than the prior art of which you were aware before you did the search. Your invention must not be obvious to the skilled person, when compared to the single most relevant of these documents.

PROFILE: MARTIN VINSOME Martin Vinsome is a Chartered Patent Attorney and European Patent Attorney. UDL is one of the UK’s largest firms of patent attorneys with offices in Newcastle, Leeds, Peterborough, Milton Keynes, Cardiff and London, with 3 qualified UK and European patent attorneys, together with technical support staff, permanently based in our Newcastle office. We are happy to provide an initial consultation in intellectual property matters free of charge.

By considering whether your invention involves an inventive step, using the same method used by the European Patent Office when it examines patent applications, you can better decide whether it is worth committing funds to applying for a patent. The method works as follows. Compare your invention with the most relevant single item of prior art of which you are aware, and identify what advantages the new features of your invention provide over that single most relevant piece of prior art. These advantages can be thought of as solutions to a technical problem in the closest prior art. This problem may be completely different from the problem you actually solved in devising the invention, since you may have been unaware of the closest prior art identified in the search. If a person skilled in your technical field were to try to solve this technical problem with the closest prior art, would it be obvious to that person to solve the problem in the same way as your invention? If you are unable to think of a plausible reason why not, then this may prevent you from obtaining patent protection. Bear in mind whether the potentially inventive features will be present in the product you intend to sell, otherwise you may be spending valuable resources on protection which might not be enforceable against your competitors. By considering this problem before a patent application is filed, unnecessary costs can be avoided. Although you should not base a decision whether a patent application is to be filed entirely on this analysis, it will give you a useful basis to seek advice from a patent attorney, and will save considerable amounts of time and money. It should also provide you with a useful tool in identifying potentially patentable inventions as soon as possible as they are developed. You should bear in mind that it is possible that the examiner in the UK Intellectual Property Office or the European Patent Office may find more relevant prior art than that on which your analysis of inventiveness is based – after all, the examiner does searches like this all day, every day. However, doing your own search in step 1 and inventive step analysis in step 2 may prevent you from wasting money. 3. Prepare a detailed description of the invention to assist the patent attorney A patent application must contain a description of at least one example of the invention in sufficient detail to enable a person skilled in the art to put the invention into effect. Nobody is in a better position than you to prepare this,

since you invented the product and know it better than anyone else. If it appears that your invention may be new and inventive, and you decide to apply for a patent, prepare a detailed description of your invention or prototype, explaining what the advantages of the various features are. By way of illustration, the drafting paper of the qualifying examinations of the UK Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys tests whether candidates can draft claims to protect an invention by providing an idealised detailed description of a product, usually with a letter from a fictitious client containing various traps for the unwary. In other words, it is assumed that steps 1, 2 and 3 have already been carried out, and the examination candidate is provided with the task of drafting claims, and completing the application based on your detailed description. As is to be expected, real life is usually very different! Often, step 1 is not carried out at all before the patent application is filed, and step 2 (on the basis of the available information) is carried out at an initial meeting with the patent attorney, who then asks for step 3 in order to prepare the patent application. By carrying out steps 1 to 3 yourself, you can assist the patent attorney enormously and save considerable costs. 4. Do not try to write the claims Let the patent attorney do this. Your time is more valuably spent preparing the detailed description of the invention. Carrying out steps 1 to 3 above before you consult a patent attorney will almost certainly save costs by enabling you to identify which inventions are more likely to be protectable, and is generally a good practice to help you keep track of technical developments within your company. This will enable you to either reduce your patent budget or use it to maximum effect. This information is provided for guidance only and does not deal with specific problems. For more information, please contact: UDL, Cale Cross House, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6SU Tel: 0191 261 8573 Fax: 0191 222 1604



The UK Parliament Select Committee for Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills for plastic electronics engineering has been advised by Sir David King, the government's former chief scientific advisor, that the government must "back to the hilt" British investment in plastic electronics engineering.

The Joint Submission to the Committee from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform observes: “The Plastic Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) is being established at Sedgefield as a national prototyping operation, providing world class facilities and services to a UK-wide network in plastic electronics. PETEC will be developing manufacturing processes compatible with preproduction volumes, when fully functional later in 2008, and, as such, be able to help bridge the gap between the small scale laboratory demonstrators and high-volume production runs required for marketable products. The Centre should be very beneficial to small companies looking to develop products based on plastic electronics.”

NanoMarkets, an industry analyst firm, estimates the market for printable electronics will be worth over $7 billion in 2010 driven by demand for printable displays, RFID, photovoltaics, computer memory and other printable products.

A research group in Europe has taken a major step towards the goal of developing printable electronics that can be used for creating RFID tags. Researchers in the EU-funded CONTACT project have demonstrated that with suitable inks and printers, organic liquid crystal displays and other optical electronic devices can be printed out precisely.

In July, Science Daily reported that market analysts are predicting a 10 fold increase in the value of the organic light emitting display industry, from £1.5 billion to £15.5 billion, by 2014. Scientists and governments alike are keen to advance research into "plastic electronics" breakthrough materials that have potential applications such as electronic billboards, flexible laptops, and high-definition television screens only one centimetre thick. Other exciting developments are likely to be in the field of bionics, including the development of materials sensitive but flexible enough to replicate skin, which could be used by robots in situations where a sense of touch is crucial.

Also in July, Gizmag reported that the addition of new printers to the PE industry's installed base will boost its manufacturing capacity from negligible amounts today to around 400 million square metres by the end of 2013, sufficient to produce almost $40 billion in printed electronics products.



Ceremony & Dinner The North East’s premier healthcare business awards Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Thursday 4th December 2008

CELEBRATING THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF NORTH EAST ENGLAND’S HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY Nominations are now open for this year’s awards, which promise to be another entertaining celebration of the region’s success. At last year’s inaugural awards ceremony, 300 of the region’s healthcare leaders gathered to witness and celebrate the success of regional healthcare companies. Wendy Gibson, a familiar face in the North East who has presented BBC Look North for a number of years, led the evening’s proceedings as she will again at this year’s awards ceremony, and Alan Hinkes OBE entertained and inspired with stories of his expeditions scaling the world’s highest peaks.

Chris Ryan is confirmed as after dinner speaker! Native Geordie Chris is now a leading best selling author. An SAS hero, Chris holds the British Military record for a solo escape from behind enemy lines, when in 1991 he travelled 200 miles from Iraq to Syria. His journey took eight days with no food and practically no water, after the infamous Bravo Two Zero mission was compromised. Chris featured in his own TV series on the BBC, "Hunting Chris Ryan," and is an inspirational and entertaining speaker

The Business for Life Awards 2008 consists of five different categories: ■ Innovation Award, sponsored by NHS

Innovations North

■ Start-up Award, sponsored by

Murgitroyd & Co

For the development of an innovative technology, design and/or process that has produced a major improvement in business performance, end user and/or patient benefit

For newly established companies in the healthcare sector that show a promising future

■ Export Achievement Award, sponsored by

For consistent, sustainable and profitable growth in the sector

UKTI For maximising opportunities to exploit and develop new market and/or outstanding performance in other areas of international trade

■ Outstanding Growth Award, sponsored by

Sintons Solicitors

■ Partnership with the NHS Award, sponsored

by the North East Strategic Health Authority For the development of a partnership in collaboration with the NHS that has/will have major impact/benefit.

Closing date for nominations is Friday 17th October 2008. Winners will be revealed at a high profile awards ceremony on Thursday 4th December 2008 at the prestigious Hilton Newcastle Gateshead. Book your tickets now or book a table of 10 for £500 + VAT, or book a table of 10 at the reduced rate of £500 + VAT

To nominate your company and book your place at the awards ceremony visit

SOLUTIONS IN OIL FILTRATION Established in the UK in May 1990, C.C. Jensen Ltd is dedicated to maintaining clean oil in hydraulic, lubrication, fuel, thermal and quench oil systems to minimise plant maintenance costs and maximise plant life and performance. C.C. Jensen Ltd specialises in the sale and distribution to the UK market place of products manufactured by their parent company. The parent company C.C. Jensen A/S manufactures oil purification and oil management systems at their head office in Svedborg, Denmark. To complement their range of CJC Filtration Equipment, C.C. Jensen Ltd can provide a comprehensive support service in oil maintenance to ensure that all of their customers can achieve optimum benefits from maintaining clean oil systems. The service provides a free initial survey, can include oil analysis, interpretation and recommendations for oil maintenance solutions. C.C. Jensen A/S, which was established 54 years ago, is dedicated to the protection of the environment, with all of the CJC Filter Inserts manufactured being environmentally friendly. General UK Sales and Services Manager, Bryan Holden, said “We offer environmental benefits. We maintain the fluid in the customer’s oil system so they don’t have to dispose of it. An additional very important benefit is prolonged component life. The filters that we manufacture are all made from earthborn products, for example cellulose and cotton. There is no plastic or steel in the filter inserts. We have a really environmentally friendly product.” The CJC Filters can simultaneously remove all contaminants from the oil, whether it is water, particles, oxidation, acidity or any other component that is not wanted in oil. By removing these contaminants, C.C. Jensen’s customers are able to operate their systems more efficiently. Bryan Holden said “Our competitors will often remove only one contaminant with one piece of equipment, then another contaminant with another piece of equipment, where we can do it all simultaneously.” C.C. Jensen Ltd offers a range of CJC Filters, which are designed for off-line filtration, each with its own circulating pump and motor. All the CJC Filters provide ultra fine 3 µm filtration with very high dirt holding capacity and water absorption or separation. All CJC Filter units can be supplied as fixed installations or as mobile units.

C.C. Jensen Ltd has 4 main product lines: CJC Fine Filters Remove particles, absorb oxidation and absorb water. CJC Filter Separators Remove particles, absorb water and separate water (continuously) CJC Desorbers Remove water from emulsified oils (can be combined with filtration) CJC Vacuum Filters Remove oxygen, moisture acids and particles from transformer fluids C.C. Jensen Ltd is also a member of the Institute of Diesel and Gas Turbine Engineers, a professional body that serves the interests of members and promotes the sharing of knowledge of diesel engine and gas turbine technology, with special emphasis on users. Bryan Holden said “We are currently concentrating on a couple of new areas, which include oxidation removal from gas turbines and also landfill gas filtration. These are two areas where we have decided that some of our staff should focus, which is also why we became a part of this association. We also have a dedicated person focusing on heat treatment quench oil systems and thermal oil systems.” For the past five years, C.C. Jensen Ltd has been actively involved in the Wind Turbine Industry and very forward-thinking with regards to renewable energy and power generation. The company supplies the CJC Filtration systems for the wind turbine gear boxes and also the pitch hydraulics. At the moment, C.C. Jensen Ltd, whose UK head office is in County Durham, is currently going through an expansion, with new staff being brought in to cover all of the company’s operations in Scotland. Also, some time in the future, more staff will be introduced to expand operations in the South of England. It is this continuous expansion that has made CJC one of the leading companies in the industry. For more information on CJC or any of its products visit, email, telephone 01388 420721 or fax 01388 420718.

Final word LEARNING TO BE FLEXIBLE FRIENDLY Thinking about printable electronics calls to mind the television advert for a certain credit card that ran a number of years back. The strap line that accompanied a cute cartoon graphic was that the card was your ‘flexible friend’. Standing on the brink of the revolutionary flexible functional materials that printable electronics has the potential to create – a potential fully explored in this issue of NETWorks – it’s easy to see that new materials and new products can be our new ‘flexible friends’. We need to embrace these friends and make the mental leap from thinking about plastic as the material of garden furniture, children’s toys and plumbing accessories to the world of "smart" electronic devices such as electronic newspapers, flexible laptops, high-definition television screens only one centimetre thick, identification tags, programmable credit cards ... This month’s editor’s letter has already referred to the ‘spirit of innovation’ that is alive in our region and the national and international significance of PETEC has been made abundantly clear by Bob Coxon. With innovation, design flair and infrastructure in place, the region can develop new materials and products that will have a huge impact on the way we live. And that will also have huge implications for the world we inhabit. Lighter, thinner, more efficient materials that can actually bring down manufacturing costs and save energy – helping the UK meet its challenging environmental emissions targets. And then there are the healthcare benefits. Simpler, faster diagnostics and clothes that monitor your health. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘you are what you wear’. Smart technology. And the smartest thing of all is the fact that the North East is leading the world in this new technology.

Stewart Watkins Managing Director County Durham Development Company

NETWorks Magazine Autumn 2008  

NETWorks Magazine Autumn 2008