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Organic printed electronics technology reaches maturity

​IoT sensor manufacturers no longer have to choose between environmental performance and profitability thanks to a technology known as organic printed electronics. A label with an integrated impact detector for the tracking of fragile packages and other items was recently printed on a paper substrate. The self-powered sensor is sensitive enough to detect even the tiniest impacts. 

Published on 9 September 2021

​Due to advances in deposition equipment, chemistry, materials, electronics, and characterization, organic printed electronics technology is now good enough to make complex devices. Here, Arkema, Arjowiggins, and CEA-Liten joined forces to develop a printed impact sensor for the EIT (European Institute of Innovation & Technology) RawMaterials "Supersmart" project.

The self-powered smart device took three years to perfect. The tracks, antennas, and piezoelectric sensors were printed, while the chip and battery were transferred onto the substrate. The piezoelectric sensor technology was developed by CEA-Liten and printed on Arjowiggins' paper substrate using PiezoTech, a piezoelectric material developed by Arkema.

The resulting device can measure vibrations and impacts as light as a touch; the information is transmitted to the chip via an antenna. In its current form, the sensor can be used to track fragile packages and other objects or monitor tires for wear. Later, humidity and temperature sensors could be added for the monitoring of equipment wear in harsh environments.

A very efficient antenna and sensitive sensor give this device—which is also 100% recyclable—truly remarkable capabilities. The project won the "Best Publicly Funded Project Demonstrator" award in the Organic and Printed Electronics Association (OE-A) competition at the LOPEC 2021 conference.

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