BOSTON, November 18, 2007 – Reactive Innovations, LLC was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) repair system for restoring the optical and electrical properties of scratched ITO coated substrates. These ITO coated substrates are used as electrically conductive and transparent electrodes in numerous applications including aircraft canopies, electro-optic devices, solar cells, and electromagnetic interference shielding. At present, there is no economical solution to repair or rework these ITO coated substrates that have been scratched during manufacturing or during usage in its final application. Reactive Innovations, LLC has previously demonstrated a process technology to directly deposit functional ITO into these scratches restoring the substrate to its initial electrical and optical quality. During this effort for the National Science Foundation, Reactive Innovations, LLC will develop this process into a repair system by investigating and developing the material and deposition procedures to operate under ambient conditions in the absence of high-temperature and vacuum equipment customarily used to deposit ITO. This gives the Reactive Innovations’ deposition process an advantage in being low cost, portable, and applicable for repairing scratches in manufacturing facilities as well as in the field. Analysis of the repaired ITO scratches will be made examining the optical, electrical, adhesion, and mechanical properties of the deposited ITO.
The initial market Reactive Innovations is addressing is the repair of scratched ITO coated aircraft and helicopter canopies that have been damaged by debris. These canopies are coated with ITO for EMI/RFI shielding where during flight operations nicks and scratches deteriorate the ITO coatings severely impacting the electromagnetic properties of the aircraft. These scratches can be repaired in the field with our deposition system reducing the maintenance cost. Another near term market is the repair of scratched ITO substrates introduced during the manufacturing of the substrates. There is no technically and economically viable solution to repair these manufacturing defects, thus the materials are scrapped. The Reactive Innovations’ process can help improve the product yields. The ultimate market application for this ITO deposition process is to use it during manufacturing of electro-optic devices including displays, OLEDs, and sensors. The Reactive Innovations’ system enables the low temperature, non-vacuum based deposition of ITO in a direct patterning process avoiding conventional layer deposition and lithographic etching processes. This direct printing of ITO can significantly reduce the cost and time for manufacturing these electro-optic devices. This advanced manufacturing approach will enable the US to remain competitive in electro-optic design and manufacturing by reducing the costs of forming transparent electrodes.