The charismatic Professor Takao Someya of Tokyo University had the audience on the edge of their seats at the recent IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe conference. He spoke on E-skins and power sheets using printed organic transistors and printed MEMS switches. He explained why flexible, low cost electronics will be a leap forward. Thin, lightweight, flexible, rugged and low in cost even over wide areas were some of the cited attributes.
Using PBTTT organic semiconductor from Merck, his team have studied thin film transistors in the form of wide area sensors. One form of this is stretchable "e-skin" based on a stamped conductive net pattern with sensors at the intersects, potentially useful for robots and other applications. He showed his plastic film that acts as a scanner. Large area actuators using electroactive polymers can give a rewriteable Braille display and sensors with actuators make up the "Power Sheet". He has developed pressure sensing using printed Organic Field Effect Transistors OFETs.
Taking up the theme of Dr Peter Harrop in opening the conference that stretchable electronics is one new aspect of printable electronics he described his work on e-skins. He described his ultra low cost scanner that has no moving parts. He also described wireless power transmission sheets and ubiquitous electronics. With almost everyone else pursuing incremental improvements to existing products such as displays, this plethora of new concepts was most refreshing.