Thermoplastically deformable electronic circuits

October 26, 2015, IMEC
Miniature LED dome test vehicle with integrated low power LEDs. (a) Device before forming. (b) Device after vacuum forming using a 40 mm half sphere.

At this week's Meeting of the International Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging Society (IMAPS 2015), imec and CMST (imec's associated lab at Ghent University) present a novel technology for thermoplastically deformable electronics enabling low-cost 2.5D free-form rigid electronic objects. The technology is under evaluation in Philips LED lamp carriers, a downlight luminaire and a omnidirectional lightsource, to demonstrate the potential of this technology in innovative lighting applications.

Thanks to its energy-efficiency, excellent light quality, and high output power, light emitting diode (LED) is becoming the sustainable light source for the 21st century. But in addition, it also allows to design unprecedented, innovative lighting solutions. Imec and CMST's new thermoplastically deformable electronic circuits now add a new dimension to the possibilities to fabricate novel lamp designs as well as smart applications in ambient intelligence and wearables.

The innovative technology is based on meander-shaped interconnects, a robust technique to realize dynamically stretchable elastic including LEDs. These are then embedded in thermoplastic polymers (e.g. polycarbonate). Following production on a flat substrate, using standard printed circuit board production equipment, the circuit is given its final form using thermoforming techniques such as vacuum forming, high pressure forming or even injection molding. Upon cooling, the thermoplastic retains its shape without inducing large internal stresses in the circuits. The method, based on standard available production processes, does not require large investments, reducing the cost of fabrication. The resulting designs have a low weight and low complexity, a high resilience, a low tooling and material cost, and a higher degree of manufacturer independence due to the standard industrial practices that are used.

The production process was developed in collaboration between the industrial and academic partners involved in the FP7 project TERASEL: imec, CMST (Ghent University), ACB, Holst Centre, Niebling Formtechnologie; Sintex NP and Philips Lighting BV. TERASEL is a European effort focusing on the development, industrial implementation and application of large-area, cost-effective, randomly shaped electronics and sensor circuit technologies.

Explore further: Turning clothing into information displays

Related Stories

Turning clothing into information displays

September 2, 2015

Researchers from Holst Centre (set up by TNO and imec), imec and CMST, imec's associated lab at Ghent University, have demonstrated the world's first stretchable and conformable thin-film transistor (TFT) driven LED display ...

Electronics that flex and stretch like skin

September 18, 2012

Imec announced today that it has integrated an ultra-thin, flexible chip with bendable and stretchable interconnects into a package that adapts dynamically to curving and bending surfaces. The resulting circuitry can be embedded ...

Recommended for you

Cryptocurrency rivals snap at Bitcoin's heels

January 14, 2018

Bitcoin may be the most famous cryptocurrency but, despite a dizzying rise, it's not the most lucrative one and far from alone in a universe that counts 1,400 rivals, and counting.

Top takeaways from Consumers Electronics Show

January 13, 2018

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded Friday in Las Vegas, drew some 4,000 exhibitors from dozens of countries and more than 170,000 attendees, showcased some of the latest from the technology world.

Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw

January 12, 2018

A new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.