By using a cheap and simple set of processing operations to build up layers of circuitry on plastic “substrates” – the material on which circuits are formed – rather than silicon wafers used in conventional microchips, the developments promised to slash the cost of making semiconductors.
The initial products from the factory will be pieces of plastic about A4 size. The basic plastic substrate will be polyethylene terephthalate, a form of plastic used to make drinks bottles.
By 2009 the Dresden plant should be producing 2.2m units of A4-size semiconductor sheets a year. They will initially be used as flexible “control circuitry” for large displays the size of a piece of paper that can hold large amounts of information – equivalent to thousands of books.