LONDON – Long-time plastic memory research company Thin Film Electronics ASA and Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) have said they have produced a working prototype of a printed ferroelectric polymer non-volatile memory that is addressed with p- and n-type organic circuits, the equivalent of CMOS circuitry.
The companies claimed that the combination of Thin Film's printed memory and PARC's organic addressing regime is the key to producing roll-to-roll printable memory that can be used in the Internet-of-Things where everything has an IP address and is connected to the Internet via a smart tag. Such smart tags require rewritable nonvolatile memory that is low cost and supports integration with sensors and other electronic components, which this technology supports, the companies said.
Thin Film Electronics (Oslo, Norway) did not detail the size of the array, the dimensions of the individual memory cells or the performance parameters of the memory. All are likely to be many orders of magnitude away from memories implemented in silicon, but could still be useful if they can become lower-cost for undemanding applications.
Addressable ferroelectric polymer nonvolatile memory array from Thin Film Electronics and PARC
"We're partnering with Thinfilm because they have shown that they can deliver a scalable, commercially viable version of this memory that will change the way people interact with the world," said Ross Bringans, vice president, PARC Electronic Materials and Devices Laboratory, in a statement issued by Thin Film Electronics. PARC is the research subsidiary of Xerox Corp.
"We have demonstrated that one can address an array of memory cells using printed logic. This opens up new fields of use, as now addressable memory can be combined with sensors, power sources and antennas to power smart applications," said Davor Sutija, Thinfilm CEO. Thinfilm memory products include a 20-bit memory in production today for consumer applications, such as toys and games, loyalty cards, info-kiosks and the adressable memory under development, available in 2012.
"This announcement is a significant step forward for the printed
electronics industry," said Raghu Das, CEO of market analysis firm
IDTechEX, in the statement issued by Thin Film.
The target markets for Thin Film's addressable memory include: NFC (Near
Field Communications) tags, now available in Android phones, which
enable device to device communication and have been predicted to, one
day, be on all new objects. Thinfilm also targets sensor tags and
disposable price labels. The addressable memory can be integrated with
other printed components, such as antennas and sensors, to create fully
printed systems for interaction with everyday objects and the "Internet
of things" where the temperature of food and drugs are monitored or
retail items are tracked individually rather than by pallet, container
or truckload with a simple tap of a NFC enabled phone.
For a number of years in the previous decade Thin Film Electronics
worked with Intel Corp. on researching and developing the ferroelectric
polymer memory technology before Intel eventually decided it did not
have any immediate use for the technology.
The prototype will be publicly demonstrated at PARC on Monday, Oct. 24,
in conjunction with a visit from the Norwegian Minister of Trade and
Industry, His Excellency Trond Giske.
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