A Look at Printed Electronics: Printed Electronics Now Interview with David Lussey

The field of printed electronics is clearly evolving, and it is interesting to hear the perspective of people who have long been involved in the field. From time to time, Printed Electronics Now is going to interview some of the leaders in the field, and present their viewpoints.

This week, we spoke with David Lussey, founder and chief technical officer of Peratech Limited and inventor of Quantum Tunnelling Composites (QTC), a pressure switching and sensing material technology. Headquartered in North Yorkshire, UK, Peratech continually researches this rich area of material science. From the original ‘bulk’ elastomeric QTC materials, the company has extended its range of QTC materials to include QTC Inks - emulsive materials that are applied by the silk screen process, and has successfully introduced its QTC products into markets ranging from textiles to touch screens.

Presently, Peratech is making inroads to the HMI area by adding pressure sensitivity to touch screens and controls, and the company also sees a future for using its technology in human healthcare for the sensing of various gases and vapors.

Printed Electronics Now: What is your background in the field of PE?

David Lussey: Peratech's QTC technology was originally only available in bulk (solid) and granule forms, but a major advance in the technology occurred when a way was found to make QTC coatings for textiles to produce textile switches and touch sensors within the textile. It was a short step to take a material used for coating textiles and turn it into an ink suitable for use in screen printing processes. QTC ink has been commercially available for the last three years and has found a number of different areas of use primarily in types of human/machine interfaces (HMI) for detecting touch.

Printed Electronics Now: How has the printed electronics industry changed since you first joined the field?

David Lussey: The industry has developed 'active' printed electronics down two distinct routes over recent years. The first is the printing of integrated components and assemblies such as OLED structures and printable memory devices, and the second is the printing of the more discrete components such as sensors, switches and controls on surfaces ranging from films to paper and textiles. Although in some ways they are joined at the hip, these two different routes have diverged and taken on separate identities as they have grown. This has been good for Peratech's QTC technology, as it is based very much in the sensors, switches and controls camp, and it has allowed us to differentiate our product offering.

Printed Electronics Now: What are the key advancements that have allowed for these changes to occur?

David Lussey: Within the field of PE, it is the growing control and understanding of the quantum mechanical world that is shaping its future.

Printed Electronics Now: What are the technical hurdles that need to be overcome to move PE forward?

David Lussey: Some types of PE will always need certified clean-room conditions for manufacture, but more ways need to be developed to produce quantities of PE in clean, factory print-room conditions if the technology is to develop and spread at speed.

Printed Electronics Now: Where do you see the field of printed electronics heading in both the near term and, say, 10 years from now?

David Lussey: Near term, I see the novelty of increasing the HMI capability of telephones, automobiles and white-goods as being a primary driver for PE. Longer term, PE devices will find uses in such things as personal health and environmental monitoring, as people live longer and populations increase.