Flexible Electronics and Materials

The development of new materials and processes for electronic devices has been driven by the integrated circuit (IC) industry since the dawn of the computer era. After several decades of “Moore’s Law”-type innovation, future miniaturization may be stymied by materials and processing limitations. By way of comparison, the nascent field of flexible electronics is not driven by the smallest possible circuit dimension, but instead by cost and form-factor where features as large as 10 microns (100 microns is the width of a human hair) will enable flexible electronic technologies such as RFID, e-paper, photovoltaics and health monitoring devices.

The new class of electronic devices will have pervasive impact across numerous markets and applications, including sensors and displays, energy collection, storage and lighting devices. It will also serve medical, health and communications needs.  NDSU has two programs focused on various aspects of flexible electronics.  An Electronics and Materials for Flexible Sensors and Transponders (EMFST) program is funded by the Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA).  This program investigates hybrid approaches to flexible electronics utilizing thin silicon chips and also conducts research in printed silicon technologies.  Applications being pursued on this program include sensor arrays and passive RFID sensors.   

NDSU has also been given the opportunity to develop a Flexible Electronic Materials (FlexEM) program. This program utilizes NDSU’s research experience and knowledge to contribute toward the discovery of new materials and deposition processes that will revolutionize the field of flexible electronics. The five-year FlexEM program is composed of three major areas:

  1. Barriers for Flexible Electronics;
  2. Conjugated Organic Polymers for Flexible Electronics; and,
  3. Electronic Materials from Liquid Silanes.

While each area has unique objectives, the development of new technologies that enable flexible electronics is the overarching team goal.

For more information contact:
Aaron Reinholz
Associate Director for Electronics Technology
Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering
aaron.reinholz@ndsu.edu - 701.231.5338

The Flexible Electronic Materials (FlexEM) program is a collaborative effort of North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota. It is funded by the North Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (ND EPSCoR) number EPS-0814442 and the National Science Foundation.

The Electronics and Materials for Flexible Sensors and Transponders (EMFST) program is sponsored by the Defense Microelectronics Activity under agreement number H94003-08-2-0805.