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Flexible Hybrid Electronics, a new frontier, Part 1

Nanoparticles have demonstrated their usefulness because the physical dimensions of such particles are comparable to the dimensions of the molecular structure of a living organism. This consideration finds room for application of the nanoparticles in biology for example (see Figure 1):

“A wide variety of inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) are currently used for biological applications (Figure 1). Semiconductor quantum dots are commercially available and offer a viable alternative to fluorescently labeled particles, whilst iron oxide nanoparticles have been approved for human use in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) applications as contrast enhancers” (Source: materialstoday).

Figure 1

The Functionalization and the applications of nanoparticles in biomedicine
 (Source: ScienceDirect)

The Functionalization and the applications of nanoparticles in biomedicine (Source: ScienceDirect)

The contribution of electronics technology to this field of research is mainly represented by a new type of integrated device, known as the FHE sensor (FHE is an acronym for Flexible Hybrid Electronics) that combines the nanoparticles’ potentialities with the process of prototyping the printed electronics technology:

“By integrating ultra-thin silicon components through high precision handling; printing with conductive and active inks; and pasting on stretchable substrates, flexible hybrid technologies will revolutionize how electronics are used. FHE will bring electronics “out of the box” and integrate them directly into wearables, manufactured items and structures.” (Source: CMTC)

The potentiality of such a type of electronics device is evidenced by a recent solution which integrates wearable sensors by printing directly onto a plastic flexible substrate, in order to minimize the losses due to the interconnections of multiple layers (see Figure 2):

“… a single substrate interfacing approach is reported, where soft devices, i.e., sensors, are directly printed on Kapton polyimide substrates that are widely used for fabricating flexible printed circuit boards (FPCBs). Utilizing a process flow compatible with the FPCB assembly process, a wearable sensor patch is fabricated composed of inkjet-printed gold electrocardiography (ECG) electrodes and a stencil-printed nickel oxide thermistor.” (Source: berleley.edu)

Figure 2

A new FHE solution for Wearable Health Monitoring (Source: Berkeley University of California)

A new FHE solution for Wearable Health Monitoring (Source: Berkeley University of California)

Wearable technology is a perfect field using the application of FHE devices, and many large companies in the electronics field, like the STMicroelectronics are investing in wearable solutions by producing integrated pressure sensors, MEMS microphones, environmental sensors, microcontrollers and micro actuators and many more solutions for IoT technology (see Figure 3):

Figure 3

The product portfolio for IoT applications by STMicroelectronics
 (Source: Innovation World Cup)

The product portfolio for IoT applications by STMicroelectronics (Source: Innovation World Cup)

What do you think about FHE technology? Do you think it is a perfect solution for wearable electronics? Do you think this solution will further empower IoT technology?

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