At the 15th IDTechEx Printed Electronics USA conference and exhibition held in Santa Clara on November 14-15, three organizations were honored for their great achievements in developing and commercializing printed electronics technologies.
The four eminent judges of the awards were Dr Brian Worfolk of Philips 66; Mr Thomas Morel of JCDecaux; Dr. Sandro Francesco Tedde of Siemens Healthcare and Dr Daniel Tordera of the Holst Centre.
The awards were presented by Dr Richard Collins, Senior Technology Analyst and Dr Iain Maeger, Technology Analyst from IDTechEx. They were hosted at Printed Electronics USA 2018, the world's leading event on the topic in Santa Clara on November 14.
A summary of the awards and winners are as follows:
Technical Development Manufacturing: Thinfilm Electronics
Best Product: Quest Integrated
Best Booth: PPG
Technical Development Materials Award - PARC and NASA Ames
This award to PARC and NASA Ames was for the first demonstration of measurement of methane and identification of methane leaks using printed materials in a real-world setting. There are more than 1 million oil and gas wells in North America. Methane, the principal component of natural gas, is a 30 times more potent global warming forcer than CO2, yet scalable, cost-effective leak detection technologies are unavailable.
PARC is developing a low-power, low-cost fugitive methane detection system based on arrays of printed modified carbon nanotube sensor elements that operate at ambient temperature and humidity. Each sensor element is customized with functionalization, coatings, or nanoparticles such that it responds differently to different gases.
Through customized machine learning techniques, the system can be trained for high sensitivity and selectivity for hydrocarbons, H2S, and other components of natural gas over interfering compounds, including NH3 and CO. The system is manufacturable at ultra-low cost, according to PARC. During blind fugitive methane leak quantification tests at simulated natural gas well pads at METEC, Ft. Collins, CO, PARC was able to locate a majority of leaks to within 2 m2 and some to within 1 m2.
One of the judges commented, "This is indeed a great materials development with strong potential application."
"We are very grateful for the recognition of this work. Printed sensor technology is finally realizing its promise of delivering solutions for important global problems. In this case, it can enable comprehensive emission monitoring for natural gas infrastructure to detect methane leaks that contribute to the growing crisis of global warming." PARC and NASA Ames
Technical Development Manufacturing Award - Thinfilm Electronics
Thinfilm Electronics (Thinfilm) was selected as the winner of the manufacturing category due to setting up the first printed electronics factory of its kind at its US headquarters in San Jose, California. This 22,000 sq-ft fab is double the size of the development facility it replaced and is home to the world's first production roll-to-roll (R2R) printed electronics line using stainless steel substrates. Replacing a sheet-fed line based on stainless steel substrates, the roll-to-roll line is designed for an annual capacity of up to 7 billion die. Based on capital expenditures of less than $35 million, the equipment cost is multiple orders of magnitude below that of a contemporary silicon fab.
The project required development of a complete line of capital equipment, including a combination of adapted roll-to-roll machinery from other industries and the co-design of certain modules for specific purposes. With its partners, Thinfilm has pioneered roll-based processes in atomic layer deposition, laser processing, cleaning, lithography, deposition, etch, screen printing, rapid thermal anneal, metrology, and integrated test solutions. In addition, to accommodate roll-based steel substrates, Thinfilm and vendors co-developed novel handling methods and equipment. In addition to current production of RF EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) die, the facility will expand production into roll-based NFC (Near Field Communication) ICs.
One of the judges said. "The NFC technology of Thinfilm allows brands to interact with customer, or industrials to have a tracking of their goods. Being able to manufacture NFC in high volume is a significant step to realizing high volume NFC adoption."
"Thinfilm is honored to receive the Technical Development in Manufacturing award in recognition of the successful bring-up of our San Jose fab, a best-in-class facility for billion-scale volume production of roll-to-roll printed ICs," said Dr. Davor Sutija, CEO, Thinfilm. "By combining the scalability, cost effectiveness, and robustness of printed electronics with the flexibility of pre-integrated cloud-based software, Thinfilm is focused on NFC mobile marketing and supply chain solutions enabling the Internet of Everything for brands, retailers, and industrial users."
Best Product Award - Quest Integrated
Quest Integrated won this award for the development of a structural health-monitoring fuse-like sensor using structural printing. With the increased usage of modern structures, industry is faced with even more demands to understand performance during usage and durability over time. This situation occurs on metallic, composite and ceramic structures where the presence of damages could affect their structural integrity. In many cases, highly stressed areas or "hot spots" occur on zones with limited access or no access at all.
These hot spots can be found on structural elements that transfer load from one sub-structure system into another. For example, in aircraft, hot spots are frequently found on structural interface members such as landing gear/wing, landing gear/fuselage, wing/fuselage, and engine pylon/fuselage among others. Current non-destructive inspection methods detect and monitor damage when a structure is undergoing routine maintenance. However, inspecting assembled structures is difficult and sometimes impossible due to hardware assembly and/or limited access. In addition, conventional inspections of these spots may require time consuming and expensive disassebly tasks. The printed sensor from Quest Integrated addresses these issues.
"Monitoring the health of structures in particular for highly stressed areas or "hot spots" with limited access or no access at all is one step further towards self-diagnosis and a real move forward" reported one of the judges.
"We are delighted to be the recipient of the Best Printed Electronics Product Award 2018 by IDTechEx for our structural printed fuse-like sensors (PRESS). It is an exciting time for structural printing and this is a recognition to our pioneer work on this area." -Quest Integrated LLC
Best Booth In Show
The best booth in show winner was PPG. The judges commented that this was an attractive booth, nicely lit and space was used well. Three individual business units were represented on the booth and this was clearly communicated with effective descriptions.
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