by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
FLEXO Magazine : August 2008
INDUSTRY INDICATORS ALL EYES ON PRINTED ELECTRONICS Printed and potentially printed elec- tronics was fi rst seen as a way of sharply reducing the cost of everything from lighting to personal electronics. That remains an objective. However, it is also proving to be a way of providing elec- tronic and electrical devices that were previously impossible to manufacture. This includes transparent displays, tran- sistors, lighting, loudspeakers, photo- voltaics, sensors and batteries. There are devices working in the terahertz band and very wide area devices such as sen- sors, ac electroluminescent and other displays and photovoltaics. And they are increasingly deposited on top of each other. This is leading to components and products that can re-invigorate the mar- kets in Figure 1. Little wonder, then, that analysts see printed electronics rising exponentially to around $300 billion in 20 years’ time, with the demand for conductive inks alone reaching several billion dollars yearly in little more than fi ve years. Little wonder that more than 1,500 organiza- tions across the world are now doing major work in this area, about half of them being academic. That is about twice the level of interest and investment of only three years ago and it goes beyond the well publicized organic electronics— indeed, half the materials being devel- oped and used for printed electronics are inorganic. The number of patents in all aspects is sharply increasing as giant corporations down to start-ups announce a raft of exciting new inventions. The conventional silicon chip is hit- ting the buffers. Major problems include the cost of the research and develop- ment supporting improved production rising exponentially and the cost of sili- con factories rising exponentially. This is what Professor Neil Gershenfeld of Massachusetts Institute of Technology calls the Inverse Moore’s law. Making small quantities of chips is already very expensive and design and production changes are very slow and expensive. The next step down in transistor size (to reduce cost and provide cleverer circuits) results in short life of the chip. 42 F LEXO In addition, making chips ever smaller means you cannot subsume large components such as displays, batteries, antennas, microphones etc. They cannot be put on top of the tiny chip so they all have to be connected alongside, thus creating something big and unreliable. Printed electronics can get over almost all of these problems, but it can also take us into a new world. Here we have the magic of the new metamaterials, with their negative refrac- tive index and other surreal properties promising previously impossible devices, from the cloak of invisibility to unusu- ally small RFID labels. For example, some metamaterials are fl exographically printed to give the necessary microscopic three di- mensional patterns over a wide area, such as split ring resonators on microwires. We now have the reduction in melting point of metals by a factor of 10 achieved by printing them in particles of only a few nanometers across. They can then be annealed on something as delicate as acetate fi lm. What are the new products soon to be launched in biodegradable paper electronics and in electrophoret- ics where the display uses no electricity until it is changed? The leaders are being eagerly followed as they push the bound- aries forward, from tightly rollable elec- tronics and power to edible electronics. Development of exciting new materials is central to this revolution, there being rapid advances in performance thanks to the new nanosilicon semiconductors in printed transis- tors and pho- tovoltaics, new organic materi- als printed in the form of bat- teries, inorganic compounds both as semi- conductors and as photovoltaic fi lms, some of which work off heat as well as light. Will printed copper AUGUS T 20 0 8 www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g fi nally replace the printed silver used in everything from touchpads and testers on Duracell batteries to smart skin patches for drug delivery? Where will the new concept of origami electronics take us beyond the foldable two meter disco light? Packaging that is refolded after use into a useful elec- tronic or electrical product is one hot idea for brand enhancement while enhancing environmental credentials. The end result is the replacement of billboards, posters and books with re- programmable printed electronic fi lm. Smart packaging will inform, prompt, warn and entertain and record when you took your pills thanks to printed logic, moving color displays, light, sound and electronically triggered aromas. Medical test instruments will become everyday disposables kept in your pocket. The move of healthcare from hospital to home and on the go is also facilitated with printed diagnostic patches and other affordable inventions. The effects can be multiplied when electronics and electrics are printed onto smart substrates. These include self-heal- ing plastic recently developed in France and “Polymer based Ultrasonic Paper PUP” from ITRI Taiwan. Physiotherapy and large area motion detectors are en- visaged that will use the latter. Polymers have recently been demonstrated that change electric properties when stretched and electroactive polymers change shape under electrical bias. 1300 Conventional Electronics Packaging Silicon chip Publishing Electronic Displays Lighting Cosmetics Sensors Photovoltaics 200 120 65 40 30 15 FIGURE 1. SECTORS THAT CAN BE ENHANCED BY PRINTED ELECTRONICS (global market in US $ billion) Source: Industry statistics 430 280
Flexo Sustainable Fall 2008