Materials and Manufacturing Challenges in Flexible Hybrid Electronics

K. Cooper
National Science Foundation,
United States

Keywords: flexible electronics, manufacturing, NSF


Flexible electronics involves building electronic or optoelectronic devices on flexible substrates. These devices are designed to perform specific functions. It is mainly a silicon-based technology necessitating ingenious ways of laying down the brittle silicon and other inorganic semiconductors on plastic substrates. Flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) is an emerging technology of considerable promise. Conformable, foldable, stretchable, rollable and deformable electronic devices such as wearables are possible. Besides inorganic materials, organic materials and biomaterials can be used to build devices, which opens up the material selection window significantly for the development of conductors, semiconductors, insulators, dielectrics and other electronic components. However, to advance FHE, there is a pressing need for research in thin-film organic-inorganic hybrid circuits, devices and systems and high throughput, roll-to-roll manufacturing requiring high resolution, tight alignment and accurate registry. An in-depth understanding of materials behavior and fabrication issues should advance the field greatly so applications such as lighting, photovoltaics, batteries, displays, e-paper, sensors, actuators, RFIDs on flexible substrates can be realized. The National Science Foundation’s Advanced Manufacturing Program is supporting fundamental research to meet the scientific and technical challenges in flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing.