Release Date: November 4, 2021
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A University at Buffalo-led research team will study how to make a new generation of high-temperature sensor electronics that bend and conform to different shapes.
The work – a collaboration with Binghamton University, Buffalo-based contract manufacturer Tapecon, Inc. and Corning Incorporated – is made possible by a $650,000 grant.
The funds were awarded by NextFlex, the Department of Defense-supported flexible hybrid electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a consortium of American electronics companies, academic institutions, nonprofits and government partners that works to advance U.S. manufacturing of printed flexible electronics.
The project will focus on developing high-temperature flexible hybrid electronics, which according to NextFlex, are “devices that combine the flexibility and low cost of printed plastic film substrates with the performance of semiconductor devices.” The goal is “to create a new category of electronics” with substrates that are “stretchable, conformable, and flexible”
The research team will aim to develop copper-based conductor ink materials that can operate at 1,000 degrees Celsius or more on flexible Corning Ribbon Ceramic substrates. Researchers will also work to design manufacturing processes that reduce the time and money it takes to create such materials.
The development of these materials, says the grant’s principal investigator Shenqiang Ren, could be critical for flexible hybrid electronics to modernize hypersonic weapons systems. The materials are also expected to play a key role updating other technologies, including high-temperature conformal antennas, sensors, and power electronics.
“To make advanced capable materials, printable copper and flexible ceramics are required,” says Ren, who holds appointments in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Chemistry and the UB RENEW Institute. “The development of advanced materials and associated manufacturing process will also lead to new applications in medical devices, the aerospace industry, robotics and more.”
“This revolutionary technology will not only provide improved performance in the realm of flexible hybrid electronics, but it will also be one step forward in making electronics more sustainable,” says co-principal investigator Rafael Tudela, a flexible hybrid electronics engineer at Tapecon Inc. “We will be able to additively manufacture copper traces instead of traditional subtractive manufacturing. This will allow us to eliminate waste and harmful chemicals.”
Additional investigators include co-principal investigators Mark Poliks, Empire Innovation Professor of Engineering at Binghamton University; Steve Davis, president of Tapecon; Jason Armstrong, research associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UB; and Chi Zhou, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at UB.