Embedded Sensing for Harsh Environments
There is a need for embedded sensing across many markets and industries. Many of the environments involve harsh conditions such as temperature extremes, corrosion, wear, and UV. These wireless sensing nodes require foremost the sensor, mode of communication, control circuitry, package protection from its environment, and an integrated power supply with the ability to recharge. These integrated systems need to be low profile, lightweight and sometimes flexible to conform to the shape they are applied onto. They need to be manufacturable, easily distributed and installed and plug and play with wireless networks. Flexible zirconia ceramic, a new material substrate for Flexible Hybrid Electronic applications, presents integration opportunities for embedded sensing. Zirconia is known as a tough ceramic for harsh environments, used in many industries. Flexible ceramic offers the opportunity to integrate multiple functions, such as being both a substrate and outer package material (seal), hence leading to integration. Through FlexTech Alliance funded projects, ENrG Inc., manufacturer of Thin E-Strate®, a thin zirconia ceramic, has participated in projects that have become building blocks in the Flexible Hybrid Electronics supply chain. The work on these projects, through multi-company collaborations, has helped to deliver thinner flexible ceramic, with laser-cut features, and demonstrate product applications of solid-state batteries, photovoltaic applications, and multilayer electronic circuits with flip-chipped thin die and metal oxide gas sensors. This presentation describes the results of these collaborative team projects, highlighting the developed building blocks, a few initial integration examples and what is needed to bridge the gaps to achieve robust, low profile, lightweight, multi-functional sensing systems. Examples of sensors on the thin ceramic, such as strain gages, heaters, thermal sensors, gas sensors, and haptic sensors will be shown.