California-based company has developed a technology that may enable cheap electronic microchips and large displays.
As time passed, inkjet printing technology finds application in areas having little or nothing to do with producing texts, graphics or photos. Inkjet printers have been successfully adopted into bioengineering (for printing tissues of human body) and electronics (for printing electronic circuits). These are two industries that require high precision in manipulation with ultra-fine particles, just what inkjet technology can do. Now let’s get to the point.
A California-based company named Kovio announced a new process that can be used for printing memory and logic chips transistors. This technology is particularly convenient as it uses commercial printing equipment such as inkjet printers, which make the production of microchips cheap and easy.
Currently, Kovio’s method uses several types of commercial printers, including inkjet models. Also, the company has developed a variety of inks for printing different electric circuits. The estimations are system requires only 5% of the materials and a 25% of the electrical power used in conventional chip-making processes.
For now, conventional microchips are more advanced then those made using printing technologies. Printed chips are still larger and usually have much less transistors (thousands compared to hundreds of millions). However, low production cost of the printer microchips makes them applicable for a large range of common objects. Thus, the first products made by Kovio are likely to be disposable smart cards for public transportation.
The feature of Kovio’s development is the use of inorganic semiconducting materials instead of organic materials. Despite a slightly higher price, the inorganic transistors perform 100 to 1,000 times better than organic transistors.
The higher performance of inorganic devices may also prove useful for organic LED-based displays. Printing techniques are very well suited for distributing transistors over large areas, and that makes them suitable for making really large displays that could cover, say, a wall.
Hopefully, this technology proves viable, because, personally, I could wait a couple of years for cheap wall-sized display to appear in my room.