Flexible Hybrid Electronics – Disrupting Conventional Packaging and System Design
According to an IEEE Spectrum report released in 2016 the connected Internet of Things world is now forecasted to consist of about 30 billion objects by 2020. This number is reduced by almost half compared to the 50 billion connected devices by 2020 forecasted in 2010 by Ericsson and Cisco, and by over a third of the one trillion connected devices by 2020 forecasted in 2012 by IBM. An underlying premise of the successfully connected IoT object world is that those devices are low cost and ubiquitous so that they can be easily deployed. Devices lacking these crucial factors has created a barrier against widespread IOT adoption. Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) addresses these issues with two unique factors that traditional technology cannot provide: it uses additive processing to reduce manufacturing cost and enables placement of devices on conformal, flexible or stretchable surfaces at low cost. Examples for industrial, medical, automotive and consumer markets will show how additive manufacturing, combined with flexible substrates, can deliver on the promise of “electronics on everything.”
An Alternative History of the Electronics Manufacturing Industry
The electronics manufacturing industry has been continuously evolving since its humble origins more than 75 years ago. An annual industries survey conducted by JEITA in 2016 estimated that production by the global electronics and information technology industries estimated would be $2,680 billion and the infrastructure to make industry products is presently firmly entrenched. However, as an industry, we have collectively had many opportunities to make some important decisions that would impact how we made our products, and we too often made expedient choices over well thought through ones, one of the earliest being the choice of soldered pin in hole package technology over flat pack, surface mount technology for the first ICs. The industry has since followed the siren call of expedience much to our collective detriment. This thought experiment/talk will imagine a world where developers were given a clean slate and and a priori knowledge of the pitfalls of past decisions and choices relative to the design and manufacture of electronics from chip to final assembly and suggest points in time where better choices might have been made. The premise is that a different and better future was not only possible then but is still possible today. But it will only be possible if we will step back, think carefully about how we got here and then how we might alter slightly our path to enjoy the future we might have had. Examples of various earlier choices that have affected what we do in design and manufacture and how we do it will be presented and discussed relative to their impact past and present.
The Hidden Cost of Ground in Hybrid Electronic Interconnects
Electronic design automation (EDA) tools leverage the concept of a schematic to drive physical layout. On a schematic a simple line connects a Tx output pin to an Rx input pin on another chip, but this simple connection will not work in the physical layout without a return path. Schematics make use of the ideal ground symbol to represent this special net that shows up in every electrical design. This “Ground” as it is often called in electronics would be better left for potatoes and carrots as Bruce Archambault of the signal and power integrity world has often said. In the world of high speed / high frequency electronics there is no such thing as the ideal ground symbol on a schematic, but rather a complex 3-dimensional return path based on transmission line theory and Maxwell’s Equations for electromagnetics (EM). Return path failures in a design can lead to costly design spins, lost performance, or added material costs to mitigate EMI radiation. Future hybrid flex designs should take advantage of the die/package/board co-design and EM simulation to engineer not just the signal interconnects but also the 3-dimensional challenge of the ground return. This is the next step in pushing the limits of Moore’s law as data rates go higher and voltage levels drop to enable energy efficient designs.
Emerging Challenges of Power/Reliability Analysis for FHE
Flexible Hybrid Electronics soon will become a mainstream in the design of wearable electronics and IIoT/IoT. However, there are many emerging design/power/reliability challenges such as size, weight, power, cooling, connectivity, antenna interference, reliability, structural integrity and durability in harsh environments. The need for power/reliability simulation capabilities to meet the upcoming challenges of FHE designs will be discussed in this talk.
Advanced Low Dielectric Constant Materials: Learning and Perspectives
The fabrication of interconnects in integrated circuits requires insulators with decreasing dielectric constants in order to maintain or improve the electrical performance of such devices. This is achieved through the introduction of air in the form of porosity. However, such porous materials suffer from two major drawbacks: lower mechanical properties and decreasing plasma resistance. In this presentation, I will demonstrate how materials innovation has been critical to both the design of novel low-k materials and to emerging solutions envisioned to mitigate these issues. I will also discuss about the lessons learned when putting materials innovation at the center of a development strategy.
Process Design Kit (PDK) for Flexible Hybrid Electronics
Flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) integrating thinned silicon chips and flexile printed components, ranging from sensors to antennas, is emerging for applications such as internet of things (IoT) and wearables. For electronics designers to design FHE systems, however, the entry barrier is still high due to the lack of trustworthy device models and the design automation infrastructure. In this talk, I present our work in process design kit (PDK) for FHE that provides capabilities of FHE circuit simulations and design verifications with existing electronic design automation (EDA) tools. The key packages of FHE-PDK include technology files for design rule checking (DRC), layout versus schematics (LVS) and layout parasitics extraction (LPE), as well as experimentally validated SPICE models for flexible thin-film transistors (TFT) and passive elements such as resistors and capacitors. With FHE-PDK, the electronics designers can focus on FHE design innovations with guaranteed results of fabrication using additive manufacturing techniques.
Perspectives from a High Volume Manufacturer
Abstract to follow
PDK Meets Materials & Process Database
A PDK is only one part of the solution for automating and digitizing process flow for FHE manufacturing. Through NextFlex, the member community is developing a Materials & Process Database to provide a platform for sharing information on materials, properties, and processes used in FHE manufacturing. Together with the PDK, the Materials & Process Database will support development of process flows and simulation models, and will combine with file formats needed for a digital design and manufacturing environment that will accelerate flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing toward commercial success.
Materials Development for Flexible Systems and Next Generation Electronics Applications
Dow Electronics and DuPont Electronics and Communications come together to form the new DuPont Electronics Materials Enterprise combining Dow, Dow Corning and DuPont electronics materials divisions, offering new synergistic potential serving flexible electronics, IC Fabrication and many application and market spaces. This presentation will focus on these synergies and new application and material developments.
Improving Health Through Continuous Blood Pressure Monitoring
With a greying populace in many parts of the world, there is a growing demand for health monitoring systems that are low-cost, discreet, comfortable, and easy to use. Advances in data analysis and electronics have fueled the development of wearable, digital health technologies. Further work is necessary to create devices that provide useful data in a low-cost form factor that people are willing to use. In this talk, I will cover some materials and design tradeoffs we are considering for a cardiovascular monitoring device we are developing at PyrAmes, a start-up spun out of Stanford with thin film sensor technology based on Prof. Zhenan Bao’s research on artificial skin.
The Rationale and Requirements for Pervasive Computing
“Pervasive computing” was defined by Joel Birnbaum, then director of HP Laboratories, more than three decades ago as technologies “not only ubiquitous, but ... so much a part of everyday life for most people that they are more noticeable by their absence than by their presence.” Along with an intuitive user interface and low cost should come the ability to be deployed anywhere, without the technology being apparent. The principle is illustrated on the mechanical side by the electric motor, present in things ranging from electric cars (apparent) to toothbrushes and watches (not so apparent). The challenge for microelectronics then is to realize form factors that can fit into “anything”, while performing relatively complex operations that have conventionally been considered to fit only into “computers”. These two requirements are more or less strongly opposed, and this talk will explore the challenges which our industry must overcome to meet them. This is the core of the mission of Flexible Hybrid Electronics.