A collaborative effort between the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and American Semiconductor has created a new silicon-on-polymer chip. The result is a flexible system-on-chip that may create more smart additions to the Internet of Things (IoT). The system combines silicon manufacturing industry expertise in electronics and new efforts in the high-performance electronics 3D printing arena.
“Working with American Semiconductor, we took silicon-integrated circuit chips and thinned them until they became flexible but were still able to maintain circuit functionality. This now allows us to place the microcontrollers—essentially minicomputers—in places we couldn’t before,” said Dr. Dan Berrigan, a research scientist at the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate.
The new chip may integrate systems into wearable devices for hydration, temperature, and fatigue monitoring and in soft robotics for wounded soldiers or the elderly. “It’s capable of turning a system on and off, and it can also collect data from a sensor and retain it in memory,” Berrigan said.
“We can wrap this type of chip around a fuel bladder sensor to detect leaks, use it to monitor munitions inventory and even augment cold-chain monitoring through temperature sensing,” Berrigan said.
The flexible system-on-chip received the Best New Material or Component Development Award in the Wearable Technology Category at the 2017 IDTechEx Show. The new development was reported in Printed Electronics World.