Sensor technologies

Top five innovative printed and flexible sensor technologies, according to IDTechEx

BOSTON, February 16, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Printed / flexible sensors offer multiple advantages over their more established rigid counterparts including lower weight, flexibility / compliance and potentially lower manufacturing costs as printing facilitates continuous production methods High Speed. In addition, the printed / flexible sensors can measure a wide range of parameters and can be used in emerging applications including industrial IoT, wearable devices, automotive interiors and smart buildings.

In no particular order, here are the top five innovative printed / flexible sensor technologies from IDTechEx and their associated applications:

  1. Piezoresistive and capacitive hybrid sensors: You may be familiar with both capacitive touch sensors, found, for example, on smartphone and tablet screens, and piezoresistive sensors that detect changes in pressure. These two functionalities can be combined within the same multilayer printed film to form hybrid sensors. Such sensors can sense both proximity and pressure, allowing buttons that light up before contact but only actuate with firm pressure. They can also be used in robot grippers to sense when “fingers” are close to objects and to measure pressure distribution.
  2. Organic thin film image sensors: Most image sensors are made from small, rigid pieces of silicon. However, many other semiconductors can also be used to detect light, including printable organic semiconductors. These have the advantage of being very thin since the light absorbing layer is only a few hundred nanometers and are cost effective to fabricate over large areas, making them applicable to biometric detection such as recognition. fingerprint. In addition, unlike silicon, the absorption spectrum of organic semiconductors can be adjusted, including in the NIR region.
  3. Printed pH sensors: Currently, most pH measurement methods are either imprecise / subjective (universal indicator paper) or relatively expensive (electronic probes with reference electrode). The German company Accensors recently developed a method of printing pH sensors, in which a simple and affordable sensor can be created by printing a single nanoliter of a proprietary material. A printed temperature sensor usually accompanies these pH sensors to ensure accurate readings (since pH is a function of temperature). Printed pH and temperature sensor arrays have been integrated into prototype wound monitoring patches.
  4. Moisture detection via RFID: Swedish company InviSense has developed a printable thin-film sensor capable of detecting humidity. A printed RFID antenna coil is covered with a moisture-absorbing material. As moisture is absorbed, the capacitance associated with the coil also changes, altering its resonant frequency. This can then be detected remotely by an RFID reader. The main advantage of this approach is that the sensor’s thin film format allows it to be placed behind bathroom tiles, and testing can be performed non-destructively.
  5. “Electronic nose” of printed gas sensor networks: In relation to sound, sight and touch, smell is one of the human senses that has not yet been effectively digitized. One of the challenges is that odors are made up of several gas molecules in different concentration ratios. The “electronic nose” approach to gas detection aims to solve this challenge by using an array of semiconductors, such as carbon nanotubes, which are functionalized slightly differently. By algorithmically comparing the changes in conductivity in different regions of the sensor with reference data, the composition of the gas can be determined.

To learn more about any of the printed / flexible sensor technologies presented in this article, including from a technical perspective and in terms of market size and forecast, please see the IDTechEx report “Printed and Flexible Sensors 2020-2030: Technologies, Players, Forecasts “. All of IDTechEx’s reports, including a wide selection on various aspects of printed / flexible electronics, contain a detailed analysis of established and emerging technologies, their potential obstacles to adoption and suitability for different applications, as well as an assessment of technological and business readiness. These reports also include several company profiles based on interviews with start-ups and established companies, as well as market forecasts over 10 years.

For more information on this Printed and Flexible Sensors report, please visit, or for the complete printed and flexible electronics research portfolio available from IDTechEx, please visit www.IDTechEx .com / Research / PE.

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