Monday, 12 January 2015

Cheap flexible electronics gets a large scale production push

In the realm of electronic circuit designing, scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have made an innovative development by using t-shirt printer to print electronic circuits of complex designs successfully.
Published in the research journal Organic Electronics, the circuits have been printed using some flexible materials that are used in daily purposes such as plastic, aluminium foil or paper as layers on top. Using several such organic non toxic materials, the working team was able to print objects as resistors, transistors, capacitors amongst other electronic objects, components that are indispensable to creating an electronic circuit.
The experiment can ease the production of disposable electronics on a wide scale and also lead to really ground breaking results that can be used in our daily life quite easily, says Joseph Chang, Associate Professor at the NTU group of research. The possibility of smart household products like a bandage that would prompt when requiring a redressing, or an alerting milk cartoon informing when the milk is about to go bad can be really cool and interesting ways to monitor the daily life activities. The idea is not to compete with the hi-tech processors of Smartphones and other electronic devices but it is a way of assisting those devices with cheap costing printed circuits which are easily disposable.
The team has successfully printed complex circuits like a 4-bit digital to analog converter which is commonly used to turn digital signals into audio for speakers and headphones. What makes the NTU group’s method different from other types of printed electronic circuits is that these circuits are eco-friendly, being additive. Using non corrosive chemicals these can be printed in minutes, making it really fast and custom made. What makes it even better is that these are cheaply printed because of the widely available printing technology and can be done so on many different materials that are easily available.
Recognising the breakthrough the research team has achieved, their technology has received two provisional patents, one of which is of a cheaply disposable “Internet-of-Things” for adherence of drug medication. And along with that, a new company is being established and an equity capitalist has also expressed interest in funding the invention’s commercial aspects. A multinational biomedical company has also wanted to adopt the printing technique for devices used in bio medics.
The team has started work in devising digital and analog printing circuits for other biomedical applications which will be used for low cost smart circuits and purposes of smart lighting.

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