PragmatIC has developed a unique platform of patented technologies to design and manufacture flexible integrated circuits (flexICs), also known as “printed logic”. These flexICs deliver intelligent electronics without the need for rigid, bulky and expensive silicon chips.
The problem with silicon
Silicon “chips”, which form the brain of every modern electronic device, consist of a large number of transistors (electronic switches) connected together in a single integrated circuit (IC). Over the past 50 years, “Moore’s Law” has guided a continual reduction in the key feature size of silicon transistors, thereby allowing increasingly complex and high performance functionality to be integrated into smaller areas of silicon, and hence at progressively lower relative cost.
However, the absolute cost of a silicon IC can only be reduced so much – at some point, the very small physical size of the chip constrains its ability to be handled effectively and integrated reliably into a complete product. As electronics extends further into our lives, there is an increasing desire to add electronic intelligence to everyday objects, but this requires a price point well below the cheapest silicon chip.
Moreover, no matter how small the area of a silicon chip is made, it still remains a rigid item that does not integrate well into the flexible or curved nature of most of the objects we interact with on a daily basis – consider clothing, or documents, or packaging of consumer goods. The thickness of silicon also poses constraints; we want electronics to be integrated seamlessly into such objects, not with a noticeable “bump” that distracts the eye from its natural form, or interferes with the tactile sense.
The PragmatIC solution
PragmatIC’s patented suite of technologies overcomes the constraints of conventional electronics, enabling ultra thin and flexible ICs at significantly lower cost than silicon chips. PragmatIC’s unique advantage derives from several key innovations:
- Functional electronic materials that are much cheaper than silicon, and able to be formed on flexible plastic substrates in extremely thin films – less than 100nm thick, about 1000 times thinner than a human hair!
- Patterning processes that are able to accurately define features in these thin film materials, also at very fine scale (less than 100nm), but are dramatically simpler and faster than the processes used in an expensive silicon fabrication plant.
- Novel architectures for transistors (and other key electronic devices) that ensure perfect alignment of all critical device features, even when fabricated on plastic substrates that expand, contract or move during processing.
Seamless fit with everyday objects
- Thinner than a human hair
- Flexible and conformal
- Mostly or completely transparent
Simple to integrate
- No rigid interconnection points
- No “package” required for protection
- Compatible with existing pick-and-place attach systems
- Suitable for lamination or high speed transfer
Extremely low cost materials & process
- Less than 1/10th cost of silicon
- Less than 1¢ per circuit for many applications
With pilot-scale production already proven, PragmatIC is now developing FlexLogIC: a unique "fab-in-a-box" model for low capital, high capacity manufacturing of flexICs.
For more information see www.flexlogic.systems