Updated: 4 days ago
In this second part of this article series, TechBlick highlights promising innovation and market trends in Printed, Hybrid, and InMold Electronics. The topics discussed in this article include (1) flexible hybrid electronics, (2) precision additive and R2R printing, (3) printed and R2R photovoltaics, and (4) hybrid CMOS SWIR sensors. All trends highlighted in this article will be discussed by the key players in the field in TechBlick's upcoming interactive LIVE but online conferences and exhibitions taking place on 10-11 March 2021 and and 11-12 May 2021 With a single Annual Pass you can access all future LIVE (online) conferences and exhibition, masterclasses, library of on-demand content, and community networking opportunities.
Upcoming events include:
10 & 11 March: Printed, Flexible, Hybrid, and InMold Electronics (I)
14 & 15 April: Graphene, 2D Materials, and Carbon Nanotubes
11 & 12 May: Printed, Flexible, Hybrid, and InMold Electronics (II)
11 & 12 May: Quantum Dots: Material Innovation and Emerging Applications
15 & 16 June: Innovations and Trends in Displays and Lighting: OLEDs, Flexible, Printed, microLED, and beyond
14 & 15 July: Skin Patches, Wearables, E-Textiles, and Stretchable Electronic
using the following discount code to receive a 10% discount
Flexible hybrid electronics (FHE): the most important trend in printed electronics?
Despite all the progress, printed logic never delivered the required mobility, stability, and size performance, limiting what printed electronics could offer. However, now utlrathin and flexible dies/ICs are being formed, enabling flexible hybrid electronics. This is one of the most exciting trends in printed and flexible electronics. Some examples of ultrathin and flexible ICs are shown below. A roadmap showing the rise in capability is also shown. Note that these devices are not based on printing. Despite this, they are enabling technologies for printed electronics applications. There are now multiple approaches to developing ultrathin dies and/or ICs. One approach is to thin down silicon dies as much as possible, thus rending them flexible. Here, the technology capabilities will be like silicon. Indeed, already Bluetooth-level flexible and ultrathin ICs have been demonstrated. This is an important milestone. Another approach is to develop flexible ICs based on natively thin technologies using flexible electronic fabrication techniques, thus paving the way towards natively-flexible LSI and VLSI ICs. The ultimate goal here is to make everyday objects smarter however technology capability is still decades behind silicon. With one Annual Pass, you can access all our interactive LIVE but online conferences and exhibitions and hear from all the key players advancing this technology: American Semiconductor, ARM, CEA, and Lux Semiconductor.
Low-temperature interconnect (die or IC attach) is also a crucial part of the emerging FHE (flexible hybrid electronics) picture. In fact, lack of suitable solutions has constrained flexible PCBs (FPCBs) to PI substrate, unnecessarily keeping the costs high. To remedy this, multiple approaches are emerging to enable low-T PET-compatible die or IC attach technologies. NovaCentrix has developed solder photo-sintering, enabling users to cut down both the processing time as well as temperature, making the approach compatible with R2R processing and with PET substrates. Here, pulses of high intensity light replace a reflow oven, bringing the solder to its liquidus temperature in milliseconds without damaging the underlying substrate. Saf-Tech is developing ultra-low temperature solder. They are from the Iowa State University which developed the famous and now commonplace SAC solder. Indeed, SAFI-Tech’s approach proposes to enable soldering SAC305 at temperatures as low as ambient, thus opening the door to PET- or paper-compatible flexible hybrid electronics. Alpha Assembly is also developing ultra-low temperature solder, extending their compatibility to heat-stabilized PET and beyond. Note that solder has a self-alignment capability which is important in R2R FHE because it eases the precision requirements of the pick-and-place operation and will enable the adoption of increasingly complex ICs with many closely-packed I/O pins. Conductive adhesives are of course low temperature. They are used in RFID, perhaps the first successful simple FHE application. However, the do not support large ICs with high I/O pin numbers. CondAlign is developing a novel anisotropic conductive adhesive film. Here, the embedded particles are electrically aligned. These films are now made R2R at scale with thicknesses from a few µm to some hundreds µm and resistance below 0,01 Ohm/cm^2. Interestingly, they can support 10um pitches. With one Annual Pass, you can access all our interactive LIVE but online conferences and exhibitions and hear the latest first-hand in LIVE (online) presentation from all players mentioned above.
Of course, all this would not make sense without applications and ultimately without R2R processing. The former is key otherwise FHE will remain a solution looking for a problem. The latter is needed to help the technology realize its potential cost per unit benefits. In our interactive LIVE but online conference and exhibition series, we have hand-picked interesting companies working on applications and R2R processing. GE Research will present on their approach in going from the lap to real-world applications. Jabil will present on bringing flexible hybrid electronics to the market. Both firms have a strong pedigree in commercialising printed electronics. Smooth & Sharp will present on its R2R printed RFID tags for Covid printing. IDENTIV will present on its NFC and UHF sensors made using flexible hybrid electronics. CPI (Centre for Process Innovation) will outline its advanced in utilising R2R processing to manufacture flexible hybrid electronics.
The trend towards high-resolution printing of electronics is one of the most important in the field. All printing technologies have demonstrated resolution leaps in the past decade. Even screen printing has now reached in some cases 10um linewidths. In our interactive LIVE but online conference and exhibition series, we highlight some of the most interesting companies and advancement in the field XTPL will present their ultra-precise deposition technology which can print features as small as 1µm features on 3D-shaped surfaces. The company offers its own printer as well as high-density silver nanoparticle inks. The applications can be numerous including re-distribution layer prototyping/printing, late-stage repair of microLED and other displays, security feature printing, quantum dot printing, and beyond. In time, this can become a platform technology. Enjet will also present on its ultra-fine electrohydrodynamic printing process. This is a near field jet printing technology using electrostatic field. This can also achieve small features on non-flat surfaces.
A unique and innovative approach is developed by NanoOps, a Northwestern University spin-out. They can do sub-micron (down to 20nm) transfer printing. Here, the circuit is first etched onto a template. This template is then inserted into a chemical batch in which the nanoparticle materials are attracted to the circuit patterns under electrostatic force. This template is then pressed against the target substrate, e.g., flexible, to transfer the pattern. This enables wafer-based multi-layer multi-material printing with sub-micron resolution. The process is now offered as a modular automated Gen2 production line.
The approaches outlined above are not R2R. However, R2R printing is also making resolution advancements. Kodak will present on its high-throughput and high-resolution flexoprinting with sub-10µm resolution and print speeds of 10 m/min. This could be used in R2R photovoltaics, active circuits, security features, transparent antennas and RFID tags, and beyond. Asahi Kasei has also develop a R2R process able to achieve sub-micro resolution using its so-called seamless roller mold technology which is patterned using electron beam lithography. The company is developing its own Cu inks too. They can have many applications including transparent heaters, display interconnect metallization, and transparent RFID and tags. Indeed, Asahi Kasei is evolving its business to become a full tag and trace solution process using its transparent RFID technology. With one Annual Pass, you can access all our interactive LIVE but online conferences and exhibitions and hear the latest first-hand in LIVE (online) presentation from all players mentioned above.
Printed photovoltaics has a long history of ups and downs. However, finally, it looks as though the technology is maturing. In particular, OPVs have exercised the patience of the developers since the heady days of Konarka. Now though, there is positive news, which is why we are highlighting it in our programme. One positive trend is that EQE of OPVs has once again begun to climb up, breaking through the long period of stagnation. As shown below, the shift to non-fullerene acceptors has helped and supported this trend.
In parallel, the processing technology has matured, and some have scaled up to faster and wider format R2R processing. The materials are also now more stable, relaxing the barrier requirements, and also easing the fabrication processes. Critically, the application space has also come a long way. Not everyone is now boxing OPVs into the same category as Si PVs. Indeed, many are realising and exploiting OPV’s unique features such as good indoor EQE, flexibility, ability to customize patterns, etc. In our conference, we are highlighting all the key trends. Armor will present on new OPV applications and Sunew will present on OPV production scale-up and industrial challenges. Brilliant Matters, with its ever expanding portfolio of semiconductors and interlayers for OPVs, will present on its latest generation of photovoltaic materials. Raynergy Tek will highlight its best-in-class OPV materials and Philips 66 will discuss its photoactive polymers tailored to industrial printing of OPVs. Of course, printing or R2R processing of PVs is not limited to organic PVs, as shown below. There is also good progress in other areas. High-speed R2R printing is being applied to perovskites in the US whilst inkjet printing is used in the first commercial printed perovskite PVs. The latter is developed by Saule Technologies who will also present in our interactive online but LIVE conference and exhibition series. With one Annual Pass, you can access all our interactive LIVE but online conferences and exhibitions and hear the latest first-hand in LIVE (online) presentation from all players mentioned above.
Hybrid CMOS photodetectors for NIR and SWIR sensing
As show below, printed electronics can play a part in fully printed and hybrid photodetector manufacture. One interesting trend is in hybrid CMOS SWIR sensors. CMOS can not see SWIR. At best, using innovations such as deep isolation trenches, it is now achieving around 40-50% efficiency at NIR. However, there are countless application in the SWIR range in industrial inspection, textile sorting, ADAS and autonomous driving and beyond. Currently, InGaAs is the technology of choice. It is expensive for SWIR and super expensive for extended SWIR. It also has a low resolution given that the pixel size was traditionally limited by the need to hybridize the InGaAs and Si read-out dies using solder bumps (note: the Cu-Cu bonding tech by Sony will change this) QD and organic materials can be solution cast or evaporated atop CMOS ROICs to enable hybrid sensors able to sense NIR, SWIR and even MWIR. The absorption characteristics is adjustable by fine tuning the diameter of the QD. There has been much progress here. In our conference series, we have handpicked the best works. SWIR Vision System is the first to market, commercialising a QD-CMOS product; Emberion, a Nokia spin-out, is about to launch its product after years of development; IMEC is the leading research organization on the field setting a pixel size record of 0.13um and working on industrialising the process; and Fraunhofer FEP has completed the best-in-class work on organic-CMOS NIR and SWIR photodetectors. With one Annual Pass, you can access all our interactive LIVE but online conferences and exhibitions and hear the latest first-hand in LIVE (online) presentation from all players mentioned above.
using the following discount code to receive a 10% discount