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Invention opens the way to packaging that monitors food freshness
Date:2/27/2013

ntage is you can easily include these plastic sensors in plastic packaging." The plastic semiconductor can even be printed on all kinds of flexible surfaces, which makes it cheaper to use. And it makes sensor circuits costing less than one eurocent achievable.

The very first printed ADC

The researchers have succeeded in making two different plastic ADCs (analog-to-digital converters). Each converts analog signals, such as the output value measured by a sensor, into digital form. One of these new devices is the very first printed ADC ever made. "This paves the way toward large area sensors on plastic films in a cost-effective way through printing manufacturing approaches", says Isabelle Chartier, Printed Electronics Business developer at CEA-Liten. The ISSCC rated the papers on these inventions as highlights of the conference.

Missing link

The new plastic ADCs bring applications in the food and pharmaceuticals industries within reach. A sensor circuit consists of four components: the sensor, an amplifier, an ADC to digitize the signal and a radio transmitter that sends the signal to a base station. The plastic ADC has been the missing link; the other three components already exist. "Now that we have all of the pieces, we need the integration," says Cantatore. He expects that it will still take at least five years before we can expect to see the new devices on supermarket shelves. Other potential applications are in pharmaceuticals, man-machine interfaces and in ambient intelligence systems in buildings or in transport.

Complex mathematics

Making this development was no easy task. The electrical characteristics of 'ordinary transistors' are highly predictable, while those of plastic transistors vary greatly. "All plastic transistors behave differently in the low-cost production processes at low temperatures," explains Cantatore. "That makes it much more difficult to use them in devices. You need complex mathe
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Contact: Eugenio Cantatore
e.cantatore@tue.nl
31-613-478-250
Eindhoven University of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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