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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R02331X/1
Title: Formulating and Manufacturing Low Profile Integrated Batteries for Wireless Sensing Labels
Principal Investigator: Batchelor, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Alfredsson, Dr LM Yeates, Professor SG
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Defence Science & Tech Lab DSTL Givaudan (International) PragmatIC Printing Ltd
TROZON X Ltd
Department: Sch of Engineering & Digital Arts
Organisation: University of Kent
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2018 Ends: 31 March 2021 Value (£): 1,289,916
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Storage Instrumentation Eng. & Dev.
Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
21 Nov 2017 Manufacturing Prioritisation Panel - Nov 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
We seek to create conformal sensors unlike existing electronics that exploit the ultra-thin form factor achieved by additive manufacture to offer flexible labels with sensing, wireless communication and energy harvesting to charge entirely integrated batteries. To achieve this, we must re-engineer antennas and batteries (the largest devices in wireless systems and which suffer poor efficiency from close integration). Our battery-assisted labels will be printed using sustainable inks with reclaimable materials for the circular economy. They will communicate at distances greater than passive alternatives and enable 'on object' or 'on-skin' monitoring, e.g. of atmospheric vapours or medical testing. Successful outcomes will provide unprecedented data from attach-and-forget smart labels that can be customised by overprinting with different sensing films. To achieve this our team of leading Wireless, Battery Formulation, and Digital Manufacturing researchers, will combine with the UK National Catapult for Printed Electrics.

Previous battery-free (passive) UHF RFID based tag sensors proposed for smart connected ecosystems are inherently limited in their functionality (e.g. no data logging or analog to digital interface) and the communication range is a few metres or less. This limitation arises through the need to harvest sufficient power. A battery would overcome the range and functionality limitations, but at the cost of overall bulk due to battery volume, including holder size , and the physical separation needed between the conducting battery casing and the antenna in order to maintain radiation efficiency. Also, there are serious implications for the end of life of millions of pervasive sensing labels containing the materials commonly used in battery formulation. With these constraints and the expectation of interconnecting separate components, it will never be possible to produce truly thin label-like power-assisted electronics.

The labels we propose will be inherently low energy in operation, but integrated battery assistance will make possible many potential applications including bio-sensing, pharma smart monitoring & patient compliance, security, industrial and domestic chemical, temperature, & power monitoring, and enable encryption in emerging big data nodes for Smart Connected Systems. To ensure deliverable outputs in this work, we will focus on creating proof of concept vapour sensing tags to address two identified needs.

1. We will develop labels to sense air pollution which is well known to reduce quality of life and attacks infrastructure through acid rain.

2. We will create atmospheric sensing labels for industrial processes and product testing as identified by our partner Givaudan.

The team of RFID engineers, functional materials scientists, inkjet experts and the national Catapult for printed electronics will engineer efficient antennas on battery substrates, demonstrate ultrathin battery chemistries, suitable for additive manufacture that offer performance similar to commercial coin cells, create inks to print thin film Nitrogen Oxide sensors, create prototype sensing wireless labels by inkjet printing, and produce test runs of the devices using commercial roll-to-roll techniques. Our designs will be integrated into a demonstrator system that can read the tags and display results in an accessible way.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.kent.ac.uk