First Integrated Printed Electronic Tag with Rewritable Memory from Thin Film Electronics

Thin Film Electronics ASA announced today the first proof-of-concept prototype of an integrated printed electronic tag based on rewritable memory.

Thinfilm's low-cost integrated printed electronic tag captures data on temperature thresholds and is ideal for item-level tracking for pharmaceuticals and perishable goods. (Photo: Business Wire)

The printed electronic label, consisting of printed memory, sensor and logic, detects that critical temperature thresholds have been exceeded and records data digitally for later retrieval and display.

Such labels can deliver item-level tracking of quality data for goods such as pharmaceuticals and perishable foods. The Thinfilm integrated system shows how low-cost, disposable printed electronic technology will provide information about product history based on data stored in Thinfilm MemoryTM.

“Integration of functionality is one of the most compelling benefits of printed electronics. Demonstrating an integrated, interactive prototype tag is a significant commercial breakthrough for the printed electronics industry. The Thinfilm system prototype shows that multiple electronic functions can be delivered on an electronic, disposable tag,” said Raghu Das, IDTechEx.

Three different printed devices—memory, logic, and temperature sensor—were shown to work together sensing a temperature threshold and writing to memory. The gathered data triggered a display through external circuitry to illustrate the tags’ expected commercial functionality. Integrating memory, logic, sensors and displays using printed circuitry is critical for the delivery of cost-effective, mass-produced printed electronic devices.

“The promise of printed electronics rests on its ability to catalyze the coming technology wave often referred to as the Internet of Things. Making electronics ubiquitous requires not only cheap components but also ways of integrating them. The ability to store, process, and communicate local information makes ordinary objects aware of their environment. These smart objects become our agents, gathering actionable data, and displaying it when we need to get involved. Whether sensing temperature or communicating other hazards, Thinfilm sensor tags follow the product to the last mile, in applications where conventional electronic measurement systems often cannot be deployed, either because of cost or a lack of tailorability to individual product packaging,” said Davor Sutija, CEO of Thinfilm.

The Thinfilm Temperature Sensor prototype integrates components developed by several Thinfilm eco-system partners. PARC led development of the organic logic circuitry within design rules and functional specifications provided by Thinfilm. PST Sensors provided the fully printed thermistor, and ACREO supplied the electrochromic display.

“This demonstration is a key step towards Intelligent Packaging, and contributes directly to the Bemis Intelligent Packaging Platform that we are creating with Thinfilm,” said Don Nimis, President of Shield Pack, a division of Bemis Company, Inc., one of the world’s leaders in food and medical products packaging. “Intelligent Packaging will help Bemis customers monitor the quality of their products individually and consistently.”

Additional circuitry, including a timer function and wireless communication, will be added to the system. Commercial availability is expected by the end of 2014.

Video and additional photos from the demonstration can be found at Thinfilm’s website:

Thinfilm’s printed electronic technology has been singled out for praise from a variety of sources. Most recently Thinfilm won the World Technology Innovation Award for materials and was named a runner-up for the Technology Innovation Award for Semiconductors by The Wall Street Journal. This recognition follows important printed electronics industry awards earlier this year from both the FlexTech Alliance and IDTechEx. Thinfilm was also recently recognized by GigaOm as one of the 15 Most Innovative Companies in mobile.

Portions of this work were funded by Innovation Norway, and by Flextech Alliance. Thinfilm and its partners gratefully acknowledge their support.


Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback