printed and flexible electronics back to focus areas
Materials characterization and device design to application development and full-system prototyping
The market for flexible, printed, and organic large-area electronics is rapidly growing. Currently estimated at over $1B, the global market is expected to increase to a $45B market by 2016. The majority of this market growth will come from new markets enabled or disrupted by the use of flexible substrates, from opportunities enabled by low-cost printing of full-feature electronics, and from electronic devices integrated into novel systems or form factors.
To help our clients realize the potential for novel electronic materials, devices, and systems, PARC deploys its expertise in materials characterization, device and circuit design, and builds and delivers industrial-strength electronic prototypes that demonstrate functionality and/or manufacturability. Clients include corporations, government agencies, and other partners.
Pictured, left to right: flexible photo sensor; printed and flexible memory and logic on same substrate; pressure sensor on test structure; a-Si backplane on plastic; flexible polySi OLED backplane; printed e-paper backplane on plastic; compliant high-density interconnect; RF coil
Flexible electronics are lightweight, rugged, bendable, rollable, portable, and potentially foldable. With expertise in large-area electronics extending back to the 1970s (when we began researching and developing a-Si), PARC has addressed issues such as patterning and materials combinations to provide optimum performance under the stress of flexing that in turn have enabled robust system fabrication. Much of our current work involves thin-film transistors (TFT) and p-i-n photodiodes for flat panel display and image sensor backplanes. We have also demonstrated low-temperature a-Si on plastic; laser-crystallized p-Si on metal foil and quartz; and innovative fabrication techniques ranging from laser recrystallization to jet-printed, mask-less digital lithography. Targeted primarily at suppliers and developers of substrate materials and printable semiconductors, dielectrics, and metals, our flexible electronics suite of services provides materials characterization and optimization as well as full prototype development for applications in displays, sensing, and processing.
PARC has developed jet-printing processes for organic semiconductors (including all-printed TFT arrays, pictured) and conductors – resulting in novel functionality and reduced manufacturing costs. These high-performance printed devices are achieved by materials understanding and device design that allows the formation of good dielectric-semiconductor and semiconductor-metal interfaces. [video example] The printed transistors have exceptional performance for polymers, and meet all requirements to address displays. Our a-Si, low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS), and organic semiconductor TFTs – which have the advantage of low-temperature deposition and low-elastic modulus – have also been applied to various radiation detectors, including x-ray, ultrasound, and neutron imaging.
Sensors & Sensing
For companies interested in creating high-value, low-cost sensor applications, PARC can customize, build, and integrate sensing electronics into the desired form factor. Set up for low cost and disposability, PARC's printed and flexible electronic expertise can be applied to consumer health and electronics products, high-functionality packaging, and electro-mechanical sensing in a broad range of medical and biomedical applications.
PARC is developing a revolutionary new printer system for making electronics and smart materials. Inks for the printer would be composed of millions of small pre-fabricated semiconductor chips. The printer system would output functional high performance electronics systems such as heterogeneous sensor arrays and displays. For more details see project page.
Electronics Design & Prototyping
This suite of services is targeted at clients who require hardened prototypes to demonstrate their materials, fabrication tools, or product ideas. In addition to printed electronic components, these prototypes can include other thin-film electronics elements fabricated by conventional large-area electronics and conventional silicon circuitry from chips to printed circuit boards. PARC provides design and fabrication of "proof-of-concept" level demonstrators and, with its manufacturing partners, can provide a seamless path to volume manufacturing. For more information, please visit our prototyping services page.
Compliant High-Density Interconnect for Semiconductors and Optoelectronics
PARC has invented and developed a compliant high-density interconnect (HDI) technology, based on our ClawConnect platform, that enables ultra-thin, ultra-small, high-performance, high-compliance interconnect solutions with low total cost of ownership and without sacrificing quality and reliability. Applications that can realize multiple benefits include MCPs, MCMs, chip-on-board (COB), chip-on-carrier, wafer-level packaging (WLP), single in-line packaging (SIP), land-grid array (LGA), tab bonding, flexible electronics, hybrid silicon to printed electronics attachment, and interposers and probe cards.
PARC has developed a remarkably versatile method for producing 3D micro-structures based on our ClawConnect platform technology. To date, we have demonstrated high Q-factor integrated on-chip inductors for cell phone and other wireless applications, large stroke (up to 100 µm) electrostatic actuators (binary or analog), laser beam steering or scanning mirrors, and more.
PARC services for novel electronics
- foundational research on doping and hydrogenation of a-Si for large area electronics
- pioneered development of flat panel x-ray imaging
- dpiX spun out to commercialize a-Si circuits for ultra-high resolution displays & medical x-ray imagers
- laser crystallization of a-Si for low-temperature polysilicon TFTs
- developed first a-Si and polymer semiconductor transistor arrays entirely patterned using jet printing
- poly TFT/OLED on flexible stainless steel substrates (with Universal Display Corp.)
- first demonstration of all-additive printed polymer TFTs
- demonstrated 100V LTPS array for controlling MEMs displays
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These Paper-airplane Drones May One Day Save Your Life
12 January 2017 | recode
PARC to Develop Peel-and-Stick Sensors to Track the Internet of Things
20 December 2016 | VentureBeat
Sensor Net to Run on RF Power
20 December 2016 | EE Times
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The history of printing spans centuries and it’s one that is rich in breakthrough innovations and societal impact – from block printing to movable type to xerography to PARC’s own invention of the laser printer. Now printing is blazing a new trail and leaving some of its paper roots behind. Innovation is now focused on printing electronics, sensors, or circuits
Editor’s note: In this two-part series, we will take a closer look at the basics of PARC’s CoEx technology. At PARC today, as we continue to tackle “hard” technology problems, some folks may wonder why we focus on energy issues
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