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Low-cost all-polymer integrated circuits for low-end high-volume identification applications (PLASTRONIX)

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Optimising polymeric semiconductors

The PLASTRONIX project developed an industrial process technology for flexible and inexpensive polymeric Integrated Circuits (ICs) and a promising prototype for high-volume production for applications in the identification market.

Industrial Technologies

Polymeric electronics has become a rapidly evolving field with many breakthrough developments. It is expected that in the future polymeric circuitry will become a very important industrial sector because of the advantages offered. As such, plastic ICs have been found to be low energy and resource consuming, and easily disposable. This project focused on the development of low-cost all-polymer ICs for low-end, high-volume identification applications. More specifically, researchers designed a new manufacturing process for polymeric semiconductor that led to a higher yield and by-products of less toxicity than most conventionally used processes. In addition, Wessling monomer was synthesised that could be easily reproduced and was found extremely stable for storage and shipping. A routine method of Wessling polymerisation offers preparation of sufficient quantities of precursor polymer coming from one batch for a continuous weekly production in a pilot plant scale. The method has the potential for production in larger scales provided that problems related to the physical form of the polymer fitting the industry standard vessels and filtration equipment are solved. Based on a full polymer approach, a test chip was designed and processed in the 150mm wafer production process. This was used for realising an all-polymer 15-bit code generator operating at 50kHz with a bit rate of 0.1kbits/s. The technology was demonstrated through WebLink prototype, an IC used to access a website via a unique code number stored in the circuit.This reader could be integrated in common consumer devices, such as a remote TV control, a GSM phone or in a computer mouse. WebLink is an application suitable for further utilisation by the large identification market. Potential identification systems cover many industrial applications, such as logistics, animal identification, and access control. Other applications including smart labels involving health cards, retail, airline baggage and parcel services.

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