Paving the way for flexible electronics

Paving the way for flexible electronics

The Air Force Research Laboratory is one of several groups working on next generation technology that will breed stretchable, wearable, conformal electronic sensors that could be used in antennas, lightweight energy storage and health monitoring. Although much research is currently being conducted in these flexible hybrid electronics, the research base has been fragmented.

Now the AFRL and the Army Research Laboratory are jointly managing the FHE Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which brings together researchers from industry, academia and government to leverage resources, collaborate and co-invest in new FHE capabilities and manufacturing processes.

Benjamin Leever, AFRL lead for functional additive manufacturing materials said that the institute will create a unified FHE manufacturing ecosystem that will result in less expensive technologies.  AFRL will also have access to the FHE prototyping and testing facility in San Jose, Calif., allowing scientists and researchers to develop AFRL proof-of-concept demonstrations into manufacturable products.

AFRL recently tested on such product, the BioStampRC Wearable Sensing Platform, at the Tech Warrior exercises in September.  BioStamp is a flexible and wearable patch that monitors performance and body signatures from electrocardiogram to temperature, Rajesh Naik, chief scientist of the 711th Human Performance Wing of the AFRL, told GCN.  It is also capable of using Bluetooth to send data to a handheld platform for instant evaluation.  

“AFRL is very excited about what the institute will mean for the future of flexible hybrid electronics technology,” Leever said.  “The capabilities that will emerge from this agreement will lead to ... breakthroughs that will benefit the warfighter in ways previously unimaginable.”

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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