Like 3M and Illinois Tool Works, Motorola has had many activities involved in printed electronics and they have often been independent. However, the company now outsources its UHF RFID labels with their printed silver antennas and the printed low frequency BiStatix antenna business was closed some years ago, though patent licenses are still sold.
Whereas the US activity has been in organic transistors as presented at previous IDTechEx events, at the recent IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe it was the turn of the German activity to share its latest advances carried out in coordination with the US activity. Andreas Schaller of PDR -Europe, Motorola Labs, Taunusstein, spoke on Printed Electronics for Wireless Application and Services. He covered Motorola's printed electronics R&D activities in Europe, creating an ambient environment with printed sensors and developing applications and services with printed electronics.
One focus is creating innovative and novel user interfaces; intelligent multimedia and visual communication; low cost and high data rate communications; embedded hardware; and energy management. This involves short range communication, secure transactions and visual communications in the family room, for example. They have already won awards for a printed electroluminescent active matrix display, nanoemissive display technology and haptics enhanced user interfaces.
Partly through participation in European Community programs. Motorola is able to take a very broad approach, including both inorganic and organic materials, mirroring the broad approach of Motorola PDR USA in printed transistors. Motorola participates in the following printed electronics initiatives:
The 3 Plast project covers innovative large-area sensing solutions based on pyroelectric and piezoelectric polymers giving low-cost alternatives to state-of-the-art solid-state sensors. These are enabling life-saving applications in automotive safety, a radically new type of human-machine-interface and new slim gauges and measurement systems. An example would be recognition of an approaching customer.
The PriMeBits project covers printable memory solutions for sensors, ID, and media applications. For printable electronics, memory has been identified as one of the key functionalities that need new technical approaches to meet application requirements in reliability, low-voltage operation, fabricability and price. PriMeBits will develop new inorganic nanoparticle-based printing inks as well as novel memory devices and circuits to be integrated into printed and/or hybrid systems to serve specified application purposes. Large-area and/or high-volume sensor applications require digital memory for event logging, event counting and for reliable storage of the sensor data after batteries have discharged. Write-functionality must serve existing printable read-only data-storage applications. An example would be logistic-chain surveillance such as temperature in the cold chain.
Motorola sees the mobile communications road map as follows:
The sequence of the current development will be:
Prioritize: Identify materials switching its electrical properties depending on environmental conditions.
Customize: Printing disposable & large area sensors in line with established high volume processes
Standardize: Leveraging existing standardized mobile infrastructure
Individualize: Enabling web based personalized information and services.
Motorola concludes that printed sensors can make the difference for customer interaction both wireless and visual. The supply chain, e-health, ambient assisted living and m-commerce are promising potential application areas. Today hybrid solutions address wireless service needs but they have to be better supported by standard RFID IC's. All printed solutions needs to be fully standardized based on a "new" ISO standard and the support of the all printed ISO standard by mobile RFID solutions is required in the long term, in the opinion of Motorola.
Source of images: Motorola