A global gathering of more than 650 industry and academic experts, including 140 speakers and 56 exhibitors, shared the latest advancements in both flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) and in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and sensors at 2018FLEX and MEMS & Sensors Technical Congress (MSTC). Hosted by SEMI strategic association partners, FlexTech and MEMS & Sensors Industry Group (MSIG), the events presented technologies, integration strategies and packaging/process methodologies that are advancing human-machine interaction in health monitoring and the treatment of illness, automotive systems, consumer electronics, Internet of Things (IoT) and industrial applications.
Speakers offered fascinating views of emerging FHE applications, including:
- Cortera Neurotechnologies Co-founder and CTO Rikky Muller described how her company is replacing existing large wired sensors with small, minimally invasive thin biomaterials that interact more naturally with the neural cortex. Cortera Neurotechnologies’ devices will be used to treat neurological disease and psychiatric illnesses such as major depressive disorder. “I think we need biological invisibility,” said Muller. “We need materials and form factors that cause no reaction in the human body at all. We need stability and longevity, since we need these devices to outlive us.”
- Auburn University MacFarlane Endowed Professor & Director Pradeep Lall called his department’s AU-CAVE3 Biometric Sensor Band with LifeSaver App a “guardian angel” that autonomously monitors patients without human interaction and can even call 9-1-1.
- NASA Ames Research Center Chief Scientist for Exploration Technology Meyya Meyyappansaid that 3D printed electronics will support a multi-material “FabLab” on the International Space Station for repairing or replacing failed devices. “This will free scientists from having to send living supplies back and forth between the ISS and earth at a cost savings of up to $10,000 per pound,” he said.
Synergies and Integration Potential
SEMI for the first time co-located 2018FLEX with MSTC, which allowed attendees to explore potential synergies between the component-level technologies of MEMS/sensors and the more wide-reaching integration technologies of FHE. Longtime MSIG Members Mary Ann Maher, CEO of SoftMEMS, and Chip Spangler, president of Aspen Microsystems, offered a popular short-course on the integration of MEMS sensors and actuators with FHE electronics (FHE). “MEMS integrated with FHE offers distinct advantages for wearables and implantable devices, for example, which require conformal and flexible substrates and interconnections and small, accurate form-factor sensors,” said Maher.
Spangler gave the example of a prosthetic eye, saying, “Because the device must fit the form factor of an eyeball, flex circuits are used to make the antenna that connects to an external camera — which is outside the field of view — as well as to the optic nerve. FHE both facilitates the manufacture of the prosthetic eye and allows it to fit within the confined space of the eye socket.”
Awards and Recognitions
SEMI announced the recipients of its annual FLEXI Awards on February 13, 2018, lauding innovators in categories of R&D Achievements, Product Innovation and Commercialization, Education Leadership, and Industry Leadership. (See press release, “2018 FLEXI Awards Innovation and Leadership in Flexible Hybrid Electronics, February 13, 2018.)
SEMI announced the appointment of Frank A. Shemansky, Jr., Ph.D., as executive director and chief technology officer (CTO) of MSIG. Shemansky brings more than 25 years’ experience in microelectronics to MSIG, where he will now direct global activities. (See press release, Frank Shemansky to Lead SEMI’s MEMS & Sensors Industry Group, February 13, 2018.)
SEMI also recognized the “Innovators of Tomorrow” with its student poster session competition: Jonathan Ting, UC Berkeley: “Fully Screen-printed NiO Thermister Arrays;” Telha Alcagyazi, North Carolina State University: “Multi-modal Array Sensing with Textiles;” and Levent E. Ayguh, Princeton University: “Sound Identification Using Physically Expansive Sensing System.”