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

Deliverables

A process was developed to prepare a key intermediate in the pilot plant scale (2 kg / 60 L). This new process substituted a known process, which was found to be unreliable with low yield and had produced large amounts of toxic by-products. A second key compound was obtained safely with a yield less than 90% at 98% purity, but found to be critical in storage and shipping. The Wessling monomer could be made reproducibly and is stable to be stored and shipped. The processes studied to make the sulfoxy monomer were kept on laboratory scale. The Wessling polymerization was developed into a routine method, which allows preparing enough precursor polymer for running the pilot line continuously for one week from one batch. This process was found to be quite sensitive to a lot of parameters and has its limitations. Storage stability was raised considerably by the achieved high purity levels, but seems to be still an issue if larger scales are planned.
A promising first application is WebLink using an all-polymer capably coupled transponder. The IC is used to address a website via a unique code number stored in the IC. All the information (e.g. the content) is on the corresponding internet sites. The reader could be integrated in common consumer products e.g. in a remote TV control, a GSM phone or in a mouse of a PC. Applications range from business cards to frozen food and advertisement. A design for Weblink has been made to be processed in the 6-inch wafer production process. A 15 bit code generator has been realized, the all-polymer capably coupled 48 bit read-only transponder is close to be realized after current material and process issues have been solved. Till now a complete transponder has not been made yet, thus it is too early to assess the 48 bit read-only transponder and whether all items in the product specification will be met. A review of the market assessment has been made after several customer contacts. As a result the chosen transmission frequency of 125 kHz is looking promising. A further exploitation of the all-polymer technology for applications in the low-cost identification market is relying heavily on standardization issues. Currently the common standard for 125 kHz do not include polymer IC's. An entry point for a new proposal for standardization is by 2008.
A test chip design for a first application has been made and processed in the 150-mm wafer production process based on a full polymer approach for integrated circuits. The design is based on a first set of design rules. Characterization results on transistor level are promising; the first results on IC level are available. A 15-bit code generator has been realized, the all-polymer capably coupled 48 bit read-only transponder is close to be realized after current material and process issues have been solved. Process modules for photochemical structured routes have been developed and integrated into the process. The process has been transferred from a 3-inch to a 150-mm processing line giving yielding devices with a 15-bit code generator design.