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A Glimpse into the Future at FLEX/MEMS & Sensors Technical Congress

A short trip to Monterey, California provided an exciting glimpse into what is in store for the future. Along with 550 attendees and 60 exhibitors, I took a quick visit through the aisles and conference venue to find several exciting developments this year!

So many exciting new products are on the horizon. Dr. Peter G. Hartwell, CTO of InvenSense, A TDK Group Company, provided a view future of the way sensors including optical, audio, balance, direction, location, and chemical will provide improvements over human capabilities. A glimpse into our future experiences with a 360-view winter wonderland experience of riding a snow mobile using two 180°C fisheye lens cameras with his presentation “Sensors:  Where Reality Meets Virtual.” The only warning was that with so many cameras and social media privacy is lost!

AutonomousDr. Hans Stork, CTO, ON Semiconductor discussed some of the recent investigations his company has made on the many LiDAR sensors. He enlightened listeners with more details of the optical/LiDAR Fusion with FUSE ONE that was unveiled at CES 2019. Future cars will have a combination of cameras, LiDAR, radar, and ultrasonics. No one sensor has it all. There are many companies offering LiDAR for automotive applications, but the products are still too expensive and the market will shake out over the next few years. 

Douglas Hackler, CEO, American Semiconductor presented the company’s achievement in flip chip on flex circuit assembly for a variety of applications, including pharmaceuticals, wearable wristbands, and IoT communications. Interconnects supported include ACA, ACF, advanced z-axis materials, and low temperature solder. He also described flexible hybrid electronics using printed electronics and a wafer CSP assembly for sensors. With this operation located in Idaho, products can be assembled in the U.S. 

Jean-Charles Souriau from CEA-Leti described the organization’s detailed research in developing in flip chip assembly on a flexible label with a thin die. A gold stud bump flip chip and thermo-compression bonding with glue is used to attach the die to a flex substrate. A polymer fabricated on thin glass was also demonstrated.    

Sensor iconClearly, much progress has been made in flexible printed electronics in the last year with many presentations describing progress. Results of a benchmark study conducted at Cal Poly examined some of the key developments in bump materials and interconnect methods. Key areas such as antennas, batteries, PV and energy harvesting, a variety of sensors, and audio technology were investigated. Dr. Pradeep Lall presented work examining developments in conductive inks for 3D printed electronics.

Dr. Subu Iyer and his student, Arsalan Alam, of UCLA presented some exciting research on heterogeneously integrated foldable display on elastomeric substrate, FlexTrate™, using vertically corrugated interconnects. This can be considered fan-out wafer level packaging. The work holds much promise for applications including foldable displays, wireless powered systems and surface electromyography systems. Fine pitch ≤40 micron interconnects bendable to 1 mm bending radius passed more than 6,000 bending cycles. 

Dr. Mark Poliks of Binghamton University described their work on the development of a wearable flexible hybrid electronics ECG monitor. While the work is in the early stages, human trials will soon begin and the results look promising. New materials will be key in the future products. Reliability test data was also presented on aerosol-jet printed traces on Upilex-S, including tensile, peel and bend testing, as well as “healing” of the damage.




New product introductions included U.K’s Peratech’s EDGE force-sensing solution targeted form smartphones, wearables, and tablets. In this HMI solution, Peratech’s thin sensors are mechanically integrated into key areas of the smartphone to capture a user’s natural single-handed grip, ergonomic finger movements, intuitive pressure sand squeezes to control key functions. It even works with the users has wet hands or is wearing gloves! This eliminates the need for physical button openings and allows the implementation of a thinner, more contoured device with a rigid-metal chassis. 

Next year’s event will be in San Jose during the last week of February. Stay tuned to SEMI’s website for more details.

JanJan Vardaman is president and founder of TechSearch International, Inc., which has provided market research and technology trend analysis in semiconductor packaging since 1987. She is the co-author of How to Make IC Packages (by Nikkan Kogyo Shinbunsha), a columnist with Printed Circuit Design & Fab/Circuits Assembly, and the author of numerous publications on emerging trends in semiconductor packaging and assembly. She is a senior member of IEEE EPS and is an IEEE EPS Distinguished Lecturer as well as a member of SEMI, SMTA, IMAPS, and MEPTEC.  

Topics: IoT , lidar , TechSearch International , Internet of Things , wearables , CEA-Leti , FOWLP , TDK InvenSense , autonomous driving , radar , On Semiconductor , FlexTech , MEMS & Sensors Technical Congress , American Semiconductor , Peratech , MSTC , FLEX , UCLA , ultrasonics , fan-out wafer level packaging , flip chip on flex circuit assembly , Cal Poly , Binghamton University




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