Thin Film Electronics ASA has extended its printable storage technology to provide Thinfilm Addressable Memory (Fig. 1). It has worked with PARC, a Xerox company, to incorporate its storage technology with PARC's printable transistor technology.
Thin Film Electronics initial printable storage arrays (Fig. 2) provided storage cells that were individually accessible. It is used in applications such as game cards (Fig. 3). The tiny ferroelectric storage cells were located at the intersection of the printed wiring (Fig. 4). The storage cells are a bistable polymer. The initial technology delivered a 20-bit memory sticker for about $0.05. The memory provides 1 million read/write cycles. A 40-bit version will have two rails down the center.
The memory stickers have set of silver electrodes along with protective layers. Some address electrostatic charge (ESD) while others provide physical protection. The system uses a 3V ASIC that generates the +/- 20V needed for read/write operations.
The PARC transistors in the new technology use a CMOS-style memory with P- and N-type semiconductors. The organic transistors can be printed using the same technology used to create the storage array. The big difference is the reduction in connectors needed to access ever increasing amounts of data. The transistors implement multiplexors. The initial demonstration used a 4-bit decoder. Commercial samples will be available in 2012.
The addition of transistors to the mix makes this technology ideal for a range of smart tag applications such as RFID and NFC (near field communication) labels. These could be printed on various films or surfaces for much less than existing RFID solutions.
We are still at the start of the curve as the density, speed and complixity of the systems grows. Sensors would be another technology that can be added to the mix. These are designed for high volume, roll-to-roll printing, a technology that is well established.