16 March 2010


PLACE-it project targets light, flat and flexible LED-based products

With €10.9m in funding under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Program, European companies and research institutes involved in lighting and flexible electronics have joined forces to co-develop methods for integrating light into people’s everyday surroundings (ceilings, walls, floors, furniture, soft furnishings, and even garments).

The ultimate goal of the initiative PLACE-it (Platform for Large Area Comformable Electronics by InTegration) is to realize — within three and a half years — an industrial platform for thin, lightweight and flexible optoelectronics systems that will not only open new dimensions in product design, but will also create unique opportunities for on-body applications in healthcare and wellness.

PLACE-it’s 12 project partners include Centexbel, Freudenberg Forschungsdienste KG, Freudenberg NOK Mechatronics, Freudenberg Mektec Europe, Grupo Antolin, IMEC's associated laboratory at Ghent University, Philips Research, Philips Lighting, Philips Lumalive, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (Holst Centre/TNO), Ohmatex, RWTH Aachen, Technische Universität Berlin, TITV Greiz and University of Heidelberg.

Picture: Integration of light therapy into baby’s blankets by Philips.

PLACE-it intends to exploit the energy-efficient and small-form-factor characteristics of new lighting technologies including LEDs and OLEDs (organic LEDs) to develop products such as lamps that can be designed in any shape or even blended into the surroundings, curtains that emit light to mimic natural daylight conditions, illuminating childrens’ cycling jackets, and even bandages that shine light on the body to treat skin diseases.

“Until now, large-area electronics R&D has been carried out independently for flexible, elastic and fabric-based technologies,” says project leader Liesbeth van Pieterson, senior scientist at Philips Research of Eindhoven, The Netherlands. “In the PLACE-it project, foil, elastic and fabric substrate technologies will be systematically co-developed with the common goal of heterogeneous integration.”

The project therefore aims to:

  • develop an integration platform of foil, elastic and fabric optoelectronic technologies;
  • create foil, elastic and fabric-based devices for light emission, electronics and sensing;
  • formulate industry design guidelines for light-emitting flexible surfaces and textiles; and
  • build demonstrators of compelling beyond-the-bulb applications.

PLACE-it will share the outcome of the project with third parties and start a dialogue with designers, architects, governments, industry and other stakeholders to discuss the future of comfortable ambient lighting and the requirements/conditions for an industrial platform.

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