PRINTIC – FLEXIBLE AND RECYCLABLE INTEGRATED CIRCUITS AND SYSTEMS

Giorgio Dell’Erba, Andrea Perinot, and Paolo Colpani FLEEP Technologies Milan, Italy

Winner of an HP Workstation

Developed by FLEEP Technologies — a spinoff of the Italian Institute of Technology — PrintIC is a unique technology for integrated circuits and systems made only with carbon-based materials and employing only standard printing techniques (e.g. inkjet, flexo, screen, etc.).

The technology uses specialty carbon-based powders that can be conductors, semiconductors, or insulators. They are dissolved in common solvents and used as inks in standard printers. The process starts from the basic building block — the transistor — which is made in a TFT configuration with a CMOS stack. The transistors are used to build complex digital or analog integrated circuits.

Organic materials are flexible by nature and this makes the transistors and circuits bendable, a feature that does not apply to standard silicon technology. The ICs can be bent down to a 1-mm radius for >1,000 cycles with no loss of performance.

The carbon-based materials are generally known as plastics; hence these devices can be recycled as common plastic and are not considered special waste. The fabrication process does not exceed 100 °C, strongly reducing the carbon footprint for manufacturing with respect to standard electronics. Moreover, the manufacturing process is additive, so there is reduced material waste.

In contrast to standard electronics where many components are soldered on a single PCB, with PrintIC technology, sensors, actuators, energy supplies, and ICs can be printed on the same substrate, avoiding assembly cost. The devices are thinner than 1um and can be printed on substrates ranging from 1 to 200 um.

The increased need for continuous monitoring and point-of-care medical devices makes PrintIC technology the best candidate for flexible application in the field (e.g. glucose monitoring, dose counting, dose timing, smart plasters, smart patches).

The packaging sector has always tried to integrate intelligence but found it difficult due to compliance with recyclability regulations. Adding standard electronics makes any packaging special waste. Being recyclable, PrintICs are the perfect solution for smart packaging applications like customer engagement and perishable food monitoring.

With the increasing demand for ubiquitous electronics, an environmentally sustainable technology is needed. PrintIC is a more environmentally friendly solution that can solve the e-waste problem in the IoT sector.

For more information, visit here .


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Battery Health Sentry

Dong Ding, Sergiy Sazhin, Eric Dufek, and Kevin Gering, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID

The Battery Health Sentry rapidly detects internal shorts in lithium-ion batteries, eliminating excessive heat, fires, and explosions. It can enhance battery-operated devices, help consumers assess battery health and performance, and provide manufacturers with a quality assurance and control tool. Uses include portable electronics, electric drive vehicles, and underwater and aerospace applications.

For more information, visit here .


First Responder Sensor Array System

Ed Hoffmann, Phillip Tinsley, Brad Jefferson, and Mat Beyus, Venti LLC, New Bern, NC

This technology provides an advanced network of sensors across a broad spectrum of critical data elements (temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, vibration, VOC detection, and geolocation) and integrates them into an actionable common operating picture for firefighter safety. The data is stored in the cloud and IoT, providing critical information for all responding units.

For more information, visit here .


Securing IoT

Page Heller, Endpoint Security Inc., College Station, TX

This technology gives every fixed, wireless IoT device the ability to use multi-factor authentication to eliminate the “man-in-the-middle attack” that stems from a perpetrator spoofing a wireless edge device after eavesdropping on the communications to learn its media access control address, encryption key, and password. It sees a naturally occurring fingerprint in every radio frequency signal, independent of protocol or technology.

For more information, visit here .


ULTRARAM™ Compound Semiconductor Universal Memory

Manus Hayne, Peter Hodgson, Dom Lane, and Ofogh Tizno, Lancaster University, Lancashire, UK

ULTRARAM memory chips, designed to replace DRAM, enable devices that are non-volatile with low-voltage write and erase as well as switching energies 100 times lower than DRAM for the same cell size. They initially will be used where non-volatility and ultralow energy consumption are crucial such as autonomous IoT sensors.

For more information, visit here .

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Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2020 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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