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Printed Electronics World
Posted on March 22, 2010 by  & 

PriMeBits memory project goes inorganic

In the European PriMeBits project, a printable electric low-voltage non-volatile memory is being developed for printed sensor, media and wireless ID applications.
The main strategy is to utilize printed technology where it has a competitive advantage compared to silicon technology. The project builds on basic research of new materials and components and takes the results into prototyping of new applications.
To reduce the research risk, two different technologies for the memory functionality are considered with partially overlapping application areas.
The project managers believe that current printable polymer-based memory technologies typically suffer from i) the operating voltage being high, ii) too short lifetime in room atmosphere, iii) poor temperature stability, iv) chemically reactive materials needing encapsulation and/or v) time-consuming temperature-annealing steps in fabrication.
Consequently, for many commercially attractive passive and battery-powered applications, the properties of current printable memories are unsuitable.
To overcome the shortcomings of prior-art approaches, printable inorganic metal-oxide-nanoparticle-based ferroelectric FRAM memory and a resistive metallic-based write-once-read-many (WORM) memory will be developed.
PriMeBits goals is a fully printed solution and, for the required performance, suitable materials have not been commercially available. Although organic materials were considered, the thrust is now towards inorganic materials because of their superior electronic performance.
To print the ferroelectric memory, new printing inks based on, for example, barium titanate (BaTiO3) nanoparticles are being developed and some have already exhibited useful proerties. For WORM memory, the project will mainly use commercial metal-nanoparticle inks with possibly some customization. Depending on the application, printed circuitry or an external device are used for the reading and writing of this memory. However, it is still a long way to go before a commercially available material is mass printed.
The view is that any new printed memory technology has to support the applications of printed systems much better than silicon memories. Therefore it is not about re-inventing a version of silicon based memory that happens to be printable. It is about adding new memory features, which enable new applications to be addressed.
IDTechEx notes that organic ferroelectric NVRAM can be transparent and flexible when printed, opening up new applications. PriMeBits will doubtless discover other uniques for printed inorganic memory. Experts note that new content is valuable and it can be driven by printed sensors and actuators, possibly co-deposited. Printed sensor technology may drive the need for printed memory by leading to medical, automotive and smart packaging applications. IDTechEx speculates that it may also form part of edible, wide area and biodegradable electronics and affordable electronic promotions on packaging - even labels, with displays, that store service manuals, warranty records and the like.
However, transistors are still needed with most forms of memory and printed ones are no exception. It is therefore pleasing that Nano ePrint, PolyIC and Kovio, for example, are now near to sampling these.

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Posted on: March 22, 2010

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