Printed transistor breakthrough will lead to low-cost electronic devices
4 December 2007
Silicon Valley company Kovio has introduced what it says is the world's
first "all-printed high-performance silicon thin-film transistor (TFT)".
Low-cost printed transistors will make it feasible to integrate electronics
into everyday consumer items and consumables, including medicine containers
and hospital supplies.
Kovio says that the performance of its printed transistors significantly
exceed that of previously reported all-printed TFTs using either organic or
This announcement was made during a presentation at IDTechEx Printed
Electronics USA 2007 in November.
Based on breakthroughs in nanotechnology and materials science, Kovio has
developed electronic inks, the equivalents of colour inks for graphics
printing. These functional electronic inks, which include silicon, doped
silicon, metals, and insulators, enable electronic components to be printed
onto a substrate, replacing the traditional items such as computer chips,
other components and wiring and soldering on circuit boards.
Combining functional electronic inks with high-resolution graphics
printing technologies, Kovio has printed high-performance silicon TFTs at a
fraction of the cost of conventional lithography-based silicon technology.
The significantly lower cost is possible as a result of additive digital
printing processes, lower capital expenditures and faster cycle time.
Furthermore, Kovio's technology is particularly attractive from an
environmental and energy consumption standpoint.
The initial target application includes low-cost RFID tags for labelling
single items. This significantly reduces the cost of item-level tagging
required for meaningful adoption in various markets, including retail,
consumer products, healthcare, manufacturing and transportation.
To accelerate the commercialization of its technology, Kovio also
announced that it has signed two separate joint development and supply
agreements with Toppan Forms Co. Ltd., a world leader in printing
businesses, printable electronics and digital information technologies, and
Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc., a subsidiary of Cubic Corporation, the
world's leading turnkey solution provider of automated fare collection
systems for public transport.
Masanori Akiyama, president and CEO of Toppan Forms said, "By combining
our capabilities with Kovio, intelligence can be built into everyday items,
enabling the integration of pervasive networked devices for information
collection and distribution, a key requirement for the advent of the
"With Kovio's all-printed silicon-based TFT technology, we believe we can
continue to pioneer new levels of convenience and reliability for public
transit riders, while further reducing the cost associated with fare
collection, such as reducing the cost of limited-use smart cards for our
transit agency customers," said Walt Bonneau Jr., senior vice president and
general manager of Cubic Corporation. "We're committed to building upon our
history of successful performance in the deploying of agency and regional
transit smart card fare collection systems in the United States, in addition
to many other projects worldwide."
"By combining the enabling performance of silicon with the cost structure
of printing, Kovio offers a true extension to item-level tagging that the
current silicon industry can't achieve," said Amir Mashkoori, CEO and
chairman of Kovio. "We're solving the fundamental issues that have limited
the industry's penetration into existing potentially explosive markets while
opening up market opportunities that weren't previously possible and
bringing intelligence into everyday things."
Kovio expects to start shipment of products by the end of 2008.
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