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Research scientist @ Holst Centre

Holst Centre is an independent, open innovation R&D centre that develops generic technologies for Wireless Autonomous Sensor Technologies and Flexible Electronics. The research center is a fairly young organization, set up in 2005 by imec and TNO. A key feature of Holst Centre is its partnership model with industry and academia based around shared roadmaps and programs. As a bridge between the industrial partners and academia, Holst Centre enables both to tune their strategies and efforts to delivering scientific solutions to industrial needs.

Ahmed Salem – TMC Nanotechnology – is working for the Flexible Electronics division of Holst Centre: more specifically on the integration of organic LEDs, or OLEDs, into foils. OLEDs are a special type of light emitting diodes in which the emissive electroluminescent layer is a film of organic compound. By means of a cathode and an anode layer, electric currents can be driven through the system to create light. OLEDs are used to make displays for various kinds of devices including televisions and mobile phones. Next to that, they are developed for solid-state lighting applications. The project Ahmed is working on, focuses on so-called top-emitting OLED for lighting applications. In this configuration, the top cathode layer is transparent and the device is fabricated on top of a metal, non-transparent foil acting as the anode.


“My personal efforts are directed towards the development of a laminating process for the barriers on OLED devises”, says Ahmed about his day-to-day work at Holst Centre. These barriers are there to protect the OLED structure against moisture, to which cathode is especially vulnerable. Laminating is one of the two ways to produce the barrier, the other being direct conformal film deposition. The major advantage of the lamination process is the ability to make the step to roll-to-roll production. This production method is much more cost efficient and is necessary for eventually producing the OLED devises commercially. Ahmed’s main challenge at the moment is to find the proper adhesive for this lamination process. In the considerations, the unprotected sides of the OLED devises also play a major role.

Holst Centre, with approximately 180 employees, is a relatively compact organization with many interfaces between the different project groups. “I have frequent interaction with researchers from other groups to align projects and exchange information,” says Ahmed, “and several of them are TMC Employeneurs, like myself.”.

Not only at Holst Centre, Ahmed likes to meet his colleagues, for instance at the many activities organized by TMC and the Employeneurs club: “I really like the concept of the pizza sessions, both for my general interest and for providing me with helpful information for my assignment at Holst Centre”. As recent examples, Ahmed mentions the presentations about managing patents and the risks of nanoparticles. During the pizza sessions, Employeneurs or invited companies show their recent work and current challenges are discussed among the attendees. This concept is very compatible with the partnership model of Holst Centre. Therefore, it is not surprising that it is highly valued by the Employeneurs working there.

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