Flexible electronics is quickly becoming an interesting field of application of electronics technology because it offers the possibility to build wearable, smart, integrated systems that can monitor human activity. This development can ensure effective remote health monitoring of a patient by means of the measurement of vital sign levels coupled with the wireless communication of that data to a medical staff given access to this remote monitoring. Figure 1 shows this concept together with more interesting options of this smart approach:
Electronics technology is an ideal field of application for FHE (Flexible Hybrid Electronics) because the sensing elements, like the nanoparticles, or the accelerometers and other components can be integrated together with wireless communication ICs that can effectively communicate the sampled data. This solution includes the option of saving the data in local memory integrated into the hybrid system. Particularly interesting is the possibility, offered by FHE technology, of integrating microfluidics sensors with advanced electronic circuitry in a single chip (see Figure 2):
“Microfluidics is defined as the handling and analyzing of fluids on the micrometer scale. The ability to combine several laboratory functions onto a single chip gives microfluidic devices a significant advantage over traditional assays used in cell biology … Different microfluidic systems are making inroads into biomedical research, from those with a relatively simple function to multiple function analytical systems used in a wide range of applications, including cellular analysis, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, immunoassays, point of care (POC) diagnostics and organs on chips.” (Source: Royal Society of Chemistry - Harvard University)
The 3D microfluidics devices can be fabricated by an inkjet-printing process
Many companies, like STMicroelectronics, are focusing their attention on the production of microfluidics chips. (see Figure 3):
“Microfluidics is a fast-growing field showing great potential for a wide range of applications, including point-of-care diagnostics, analytics, drug development, organ-on-a-chip, education, chemical synthesis and biomedical assays, as well as research and development. There is a clear need to complement existing techniques for the production of microfluidic devices with more rapid, cost-effective 3D printing technology that can create fluidically-sealed devices able to withstand the high pressures used in many applications” (Source: rdmag.com)
The microfluidics chips made by the Dolomite Company (Source: Dolomite)
What do you think about the potential applications of the Flexible Hybrid Electronics technology? Do you think it is a promising field of development for electronics? What future applications to the IOT technology do you see?