Invisible Electronics for Packaging Applications
One of the hottest topics in technology today is printed electronics. It is evolving so fast that the full variety of benefits arising has yet to become clear. Take invisible electronics where complete transparency, hiding from sight and possibly light bending may be involved. The world’s largest conference and exhibition on printed and potentially printed electronics - the IDTechEx “Printed Electronics Europe” event - took place on 8-9 April in Dresden, Germany, a centre of excellence for the subject. Here, local startup Novaled revealed record breaking performance of its light emitting inks and hosted visits to its superb new facility. One capability that was demonstrated was the totally transparent glass window that becomes a white light when electricity is applied.
Lecturers at the conference revealed that total transparency is now also possible with printed transistors and many other forms of electrical and electronic devices. For example, a watch is on the way that generates electricity invisibly from a solar cell coating on the viewing glass.
Light emitting plastic was first discovered in Europe, at Cambridge University in the UK, and the Dye Sensitized Solar Cell was invented in Switzerland and is now in production - printed reel to reel - in the UK. Nanosolar described how it will soon be printing an alternative, the Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide DSSC photovoltaics reel to reel in Berlin, another world first. Markets inaccessible to silicon chips will be accessed by transistors printed reel to reel, PolyIC of Germany being in the lead, and photovoltaics cleverer than silicon solar cells (for instance transparent, tightly rollable and working from heat as well as light) have arrived.
Another form of invisibility is replacing something ugly on the outside of a package such as a barcode with something that will still work when printed on the inside of the package - the printed RFID label. Indeed, some RFID will be printed directly on the inside of a package - even in the glue flap. MAN Roland, which makes some of the world’s largest and fastest printing machines, emphasized the importance of eliminating visible barcodes and conventional RFID tags on the outside of packages, noting that successful RFID integration in sales packaging needs the know-how of the printers. Thomas Walther, Head of New Product Technology at the company, revealed market studies showing that both experts and consumers find packaging the most effective promotional medium, not to be unnecessarily debased with visible stock control devices.