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Printed and Flexible Electronics: Key Technology Highlights in 2020

28 November 2020: IDTechEx’s recent research paper on “Printed and Flexible Electronics: Key Technology Highlights in 2020” by Dr. Matthew Dyson, outlines three of the most exciting technological highlights in the sector. These innovations span from technically advanced materials to novel manufacturing methodologies, covering a diverse set of applications that range from OLED displays to wearable healthcare patches. An especially exciting technical development is fully flexible thinned silicon integrated circuits (ICs).

Also, Flexible mounted components are key components of the emerging manufacturing trend known as ‘Flexible Hybrid Electronics’ (FHE). FHE seeks to resolve some of the compromises inherent in printed electronics by combining mounted components (such as flexible ICs) with printed conductive traces on a flexible substrate. While wearable electronics and smart packaging are forecast to be the most promising applications, FHE can be applied across many sectors.

As reported by IDTechEx, turning to OLED materials, the dominant technical trend is the emergence of a new class of materials that promise lower-costs, high efficiency, and a wider color gamut. According to the report, another exciting and innovative technology, again material based, is an alternative to stretchable conductive inks. Rather than combining silver flakes with elastomeric binders, early-stage company Liquid Wire use a metal gel based on a gallium/indium alloy that is liquid at room temperature.

In 2020 some companies have pivoted to providing solutions to address the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, within wearable electronics, remote patient monitoring, including electronic skin patches has seen strong interest for monitoring a patient’s temperature remotely, the benefit being that the patient does not need to come into contact with healthcare professionals to take their temperature which may expose them to the virus. Furthermore, conductive ink has been used in sensor test systems as part of a system to detect infections, including COVID-19.

Overall, 2020 has been an exciting year for printed electronics, with an increased focus on the aspects, such as flexible hybrid electronics, that bring a real value proposition to manufacturers and ultimately consumers.

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