“The program is designed to show customer pull – in the keynote talks – and technology push and pull – in the technical conference,” Heidi Hoffman, senior director for technology communities at SEMI, said.
The full conference started with FLEX/MSTC Session 1: Keynotes. SEMI Americas president Dave Anderson and SEMI president and CEO Ajit Manocha gave introductory talks. Dragos Maciuca, executive technical director, Ford Motor Company, then discussed opportunities n the automotive market in his presentation on “An OEM Perspective on the Changing Automotive Sensor Landscape—Ford Motor Company.”
Maciuca reported that sensors are becoming even more pervasive in the automotive industry, from temperature sensors to new sensors for lidar and imaging radar.
John A. Rogers, Louis Simpson & Kimberly Querrey Professor, Materials Science & Engineering, Neurological Surgery Rogers Research Group, Northwestern University, analyzed “Soft Electronic and Microfluidic Systems for the Skin.” He discussed recent devices, including wireless, battery-free electronic 'tattoos' for continuous monitoring of vital signs in neonatal intensive care, and microfluidic/electronic platforms that can capture, manipulate and perform biomarker analysis on microliter volumes of sweat for sports and fitness.
Among the examples cited by Rogers is the collaboration by L’Oreal and LaROche-Posay on My Skin Track UV, which measured a person’s exposure to UV. The companies are now partnering on My Skin Track for 2019; this will measure the skin’s pH levels and create personalized products for improved skin care.
The conference headed into three concurrent sessions, including FLEX Session 3: Applications I, which began with John Goods of C2Sense, who spoke on “Carbon Nanotube Chemiresistors--Distributed Sensing for Food and Agriculture.” Robert Street, research fellow, Palo Alto Research Center, followed with “Flexible Hybrid Audio Speaker and Circuit.”
“Our goal is to make highly flexible PVDF speakers,” Street said. “Inkjet printed resistors have good long-term stability. Using a biomorph structure gives improved loudness, decent quality and easily recognizable sound.”
Dr. Azar Alizadeh, principal scientist, GE Global Research, spoke on “Wearable Sweat Sensing Devices,” an update on efforts to measure sweat.
“Dehydration has adverse effects on health and performance,” Dr. Alizadeh noted, including increased heart rate and body temperature. With the US Air Force among its partners in these NextFlex projects, GE tested its first set of devices, but found challenges with device adhesion to the skin particularly in cold weather. They have overcome these concerns, and are looking at mass production, using screen printing of the sweat rate sensor circuitry using conductive ink and water soluble carbon traces.
Sameh Dardona, associate director for research and innovation, United Technologies Research Center, then discussed “Stretchable Sensor Network for Asset Monitoring.” He discussed his company’s use cases, including Pratt & Whitney engines and Otis elevators.
“For Pratt & Whitney, future platforms will utilize sensor data to predict the demands on the engine in order to adjust thrust levels for improved performance,” Dardona noted. “For Otis, future platforms will include remote monitoring and fixing of components, leading to reduced service and improved safety.”