May 23, 2012

3M Announces Commercial Availability of New 3M™ FTB3 Barrier Film that Protects Organic Electronics like OLEDs

3M’s Optical Systems Division today announced that its 3M™ FTB3-50 and FTB3-125 films—flexible, optically clear films that protect sensitive electronics from water vapor and oxygen—are now commercially available. Previously, these films had been sold primarily under limited research-and-development agreements. FTB3 (for flexible, transparent, barrier) film has application in a range of emerging display technologies.

“Many new technologies incorporate organic electronics or other components that need protection from water vapor and oxygen,” explained Art Lathrop, marketing manager for 3M Optical Systems Division. “FTB3 provides superior protection from those and other contaminants while at the same time it is thinner, lighter, more flexible and more impact resistant than glass.”

Lathrop noted that the film could enable new form factors for electronic devices. “FTB3 offers a unique combination of durability, flexibility, optical clarity and low weight,” he said. “And it offers from two to three orders of magnitude better protection from water vapor than packaging grade barrier films.”

The film has a water vapor transfer rate of less than 1x10-3 grams per square meter per day at 20°C. It also has insulating qualities that could be of interest to product developers. “Unlike metal foils, the barrier layer in FTB3 doesn’t conduct electricity,” explained Dr. Fred McCormick, senior research specialist within Optical Systems. “Also, it’s remarkably smooth with an Ra of about 1 nanometer.”

FTB3 consists of a base polyester layer (50-125 microns thick) with a very thin (less than 2.0 microns) barrier coating made up of layers of polymer and oxide.

McCormick noted that the film’s flexibility allows roll-to-roll processing, which has the potential to improve manufacturing efficiencies and reduce costs. It is currently available in 300 mm-wide rolls. Wider rolls will be available in the second quarter of 2012. Additionally, 3M is developing a range of barrier films using different substrates, additional film layers, and even higher barrier performance for applications ranging from solar panels to electrophoretic, electrochromic, and OLED displays.

“Consumers will benefit from the protection that 3M barrier films give electronic devices, whether they are protecting next-generation displays or solar cells,” Lathrop said. “We’re excited to see how FTB3 films—and future 3M barrier films now under development—will be able to contribute to displays, electronics and other devices that are now being developed.”

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