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A new twist on sensors

A week or so back, I saw in the news that the U.S. Department of Defense is funding the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of 162 academic institutions, researchers, and that will focus on “flexible hybrid electronics, which can be embedded with sensors and stretched, twisted and bent to fit aircraft or other platform where they will be used….’This is an emerging technology that takes advanced flexible materials for circuits, communications, sensors and power and combines them with thinned silicon chips to ultimately produce the next generation of electronic products,’ [Defense Secretary Ash] Carter said.” (Source: Reuters via Yahoo)

While we’re not part of FlexTech initiative, Critical Link does do work on defense applications, and we’re always interested in what’s happening in the world of sensors.

The new – and pretty revolutionary – approach to electronics and sensors packaging relies on emerging techniques for printing on “flexible, stretchable substrates” in the high-precision printing industry. The sensors that will be produced, using ultra-thin silicon components will be light weight, and bend and stretch. This makes them ideal for wearables, and the applications range from military gear worn by soldiers to medical devices to consumer products.

According to the Reuters article, “the technology also could ultimately be used to integrate sensors directly onto the surfaces of ships or warplanes, allowing real-time monitoring of their structural integrity.”

Anyway, it’s always exciting to learn about new and highly-useful new technologies.

Somewhere along the line, in some show or another on the industrial revolution, I heard it said that someone born in the generation before the steam engine was invented had more in common with someone who lived in Roman times that they did with their own children and grandchildren. At the pace at which technology is evolving, this may end up being true of my generation. Technologically speaking, we’ll have more in common with Civil War vets than we do with our own grandkids.