/> ED I T O R S C H O I C E IN N O V A T IO N A W A R D
X

The future of printed electronics is now (pictures)

At the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), scientists are working on ways to create printable sensors, transitors, semiconductors, and more.

New_CNET_profile_picture.jpg
Daniel Terdiman
IMG_9933.jpg
1 of 9 PARC

Printed electronics

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Scientists at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) are working on a new technology that makes it possible to quickly and efficiently print functional electronics, such as sensors, light-emitters, transistors, and even semiconductors. Though the technology is in its earliest days, and it's not clear how it will be employed, the promise is there for a wide range of possible uses, in industry and beyond.
IMG_0856.jpg
2 of 9 PARC

Not 3D printing

Printed electronics is not the same as 3D printing, but it does use the same additive manufacturing method. Traditional electronics manufacturing is "subtractive," meaning the end product is etched away from a material, while this method is essentially the same as printing text or imagery on paper.
IMG_9638.jpg
3 of 9 PARC and Thinfilm Electronics

Flexible and transparent

Because the material that the electronics can be printed on is flexible and transparent, it is hoped that the technology can be incorporated directly into product packaging.
Screen_shot_2013-05-30_at_5.36.13_PM.png
4 of 9 PARC and Thinfilm Electronics

Temperature sensors

One use is to build temperature sensors directly into the packaging for, say, fish. If the temperature of the fish goes above 35 degrees Fahrenheit, the sensor will issue an alert. The packaging is produced by Thinfilm Electronics.
IMG_9780.jpg
5 of 9 PARC

Early days

PARC's Janos Veres said that the state of printed electronics today is akin to that of transistors in the 1960s. But all that's required now is for partners to look for applications that are "good enough."
Screen_shot_2013-05-30_at_5.36.36_PM.png
6 of 9 PARC

Inkjet and Gravure

The printers used in this technology can utilize either standard InkJet print heads or Gravure heads.
Screen_shot_2013-05-30_at_5.34.42_PM.png
7 of 9 PARC

Libraries

One of the most important things that can happen in printed electronics right now is for PARC and its partners to create a series of libraries of applications. Among them are active matrix displays, image sensor arrays, and memory arrays.
Screen_shot_2013-05-30_at_5.34.32_PM.png
8 of 9 PARC

Sensors and interfaces

Other potential libraries include a variety of sensors and even batteries.
Screen_shot_2013-05-30_at_5.34.20_PM.png
9 of 9 PARC

Digital circuit libraries

There are also a series of potential digital circuit libraries that could make up the feature set of printed electronics.

More Galleries

2022's best TV shows you can't miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and more

More Galleries

2022's best TV shows you can't miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and more

63 Photos
The Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo is the EV of our dreams

More Galleries

The Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo is the EV of our dreams

7 Photos
Nintendo Switch: The best games to play right now

More Galleries

Nintendo Switch: The best games to play right now

41 Photos
Movies coming in 2022 from Marvel, Netflix, DC and more

More Galleries

Movies coming in 2022 from Marvel, Netflix, DC and more

66 Photos
Subaru Solterra STI feels like a natural extension

More Galleries

Subaru Solterra STI feels like a natural extension

5 Photos
Best dating apps of 2021

More Galleries

Best dating apps of 2021

13 Photos
2022 Porsche Cayenne adds snazzy Platinum Edition

More Galleries

2022 Porsche Cayenne adds snazzy Platinum Edition

9 Photos