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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R028559/1
Title: Design for high-yield manufacturing of printed circuits
Principal Investigator: Sporea, Dr RA
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Altro Ltd NeuDrive Limited
Department: ATI Electronics
Organisation: University of Surrey
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 June 2018 Ends: 31 May 2020 Value (£): 247,050
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Electronic Devices & Subsys. Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Electronics
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Feb 2018 Manufacturing Prioritisation Panel - Feb 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Emerging printed and flexible electronics have great potential for customised consumer, medical and communication applications. In the lab they show ever-increasing performance as designer materials with specific properties are being developed. For these technologies to bridge the gap to volume production, consistency of performance and high production yield are essential, yet current progress has largely focused on individual device performance.

A type of electronic device, the source-gated transistor (SGT), was developed and patented at Surrey and operates on different principles to a conventional thin-film transistor. This device has the potential to produce uniform performance (especially drain current) despite significant parameter variation which may occur during manufacturing. SGTs can be made in a variety of technologies and in principle can be combined with conventional transistors to create high performance printed and large area electronic circuits without resorting to complicated compensation circuitry to repeatedly achieve the desired characteristics. SGTs would be ideal devices for routine operations in mass-market, low-cost printed electronics, in which their energy efficiency and uniformity of performance would outweigh the comparatively low operating speeds.

This project would be the first systematic study of both devices and low cost circuits deliberately designed to take advantage of the uniformity benefits of SGTs, with a focus on organic materials. The field of organic transistor research is particularly attractive due to the comparative ease of fabrication, rich palette of designer materials materials - both current and future, flexible substrate compatibility and low capital investment in equipment. This research has, however, now reached a plateau with the development of high-performance semiconductors, where significant improvements are likely to arise chiefly through the synthesis of improved materials. The principal hurdles for high-volume manufacturability are now the comparatively low yield and significant variations in performance, particularly over a large area. We will demonstrate the next important innovation, bringing high-volume yield to the manufacturing of low-power organic electronic technologies, by addressing these challenges.

Project partners NeuDrive (materials and devices), Silvaco (simulation), and Altro (smart living spaces) will provide essential know how in order to help achieve the project aims: to verify theoretical SGT properties by device fabrication and characterisation; to optimise the designs and assess the performance of electronic circuit blocks made with source-gated transistors; to support our findings with numerical modelling; to create design guidelines and documentation, facilitating the uptake of this new technology in both the academic and industrial environments.

CPI, the national facility for research into advanced manufacturing processes for electronics, will be subcontracted for part of the fabrication, allowing research staff to concentrate on process development, device optimisation and circuit design.

We expect the greatest value of the project to be in making possible the efficient high volume manufacturing of a wide variety of printed and flexible electronics used for wearables, sensor arrays and internet-of-things (IoT) devices, which are priorities for development in both the research community and industry. Our contribution will allow consistent performance to be obtained from printed and flexible circuits, directly increasing the market viability of a variety of cost-effective applications.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Summary
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Organisation Website: http://www.surrey.ac.uk