A future of Roll-to-Roll manufacture for Thin Film Electronics is found in Camara Oscura (covered by US Patent No. 7410542)
The ever growing demand for energy leads one to hope for a universally affordable, renewable, personal energy source. At first glance photovoltaics (PV) appears to fill this need but for the universally affordable clause. Thin film PV is the only group of technologies that promises any reasonable expectations of providing this cheap, reliable, renewable, personal energy source:
A search was on for existing fast, cheap and reliable methods of manufacturing thin film PV. During this search the idea of flexible substrates (metals, plastics, cloth, etc) for the deposition and deployment of thin film PV soon became joined in one's mind to the roll to roll or web based method of using long flexible substrates on which to form thin film PV.
The search now focused on finding just such a roll to roll system for manufacturing thin film PV. It soon became apparent, back in 2006, that no such system existed. While examining the requirements for the deposition of thin films, a range of environmental conditions was defined.
In a brainstorming session using Organic Vapor Phase Deposition (OVPD) as a typical example of a method of applying thin films we sought to join the rolling of the flexible substrate with simultaneous film deposition. In so doing, Camara Oscura, a dynamically configure-able environmental enclosure, film forming system was defined.
While elaborating this conceptual design and during the execution of the patent much of the potential of the design became evident. Thus it soon became apparent that this system could be used for manufacturing OPV, OLEDs, OFETs, OTFTs and virtually any other type of thin film device, as well as many other types of devices.
Because of the system's inherent scalability, small footprint versions of Camara Oscura could be produced for research and development, for scaling up from lab samples to a small scale machine,
allowing proof of process and manufacturability; additionally, machines could be produced for boutique roll-to-roll enterprises.