A New Frontier of Printed Electronics: Flexible Hybrid Electronics
The performance and integration density of silicon integrated circuits (ICs) have progressed at an unprecedented pace in the past 60 years. While silicon ICs thrive at low‐power high‐performance computing, creating flexible and large‐area electronics using silicon remains a challenge. On the other hand, flexible and printed electronics use intrinsically flexible materials and printing techniques to manufacture compliant and large‐area electronics. Nonetheless, flexible electronics are not as efficient as silicon ICs for computation and signal communication. Flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) leverages the strengths of these two dissimilar technologies. It uses flexible and printed electronics where flexibility and scalability are required, i.e., for sensing and actuating, and silicon ICs for computation and communication purposes. Combining flexible electronics and silicon ICs yields a very powerful and versatile technology with a vast range of applications. Here, the fundamental building blocks of an FHE system, printed sensors and circuits, thinned silicon ICs, printed antennas, printed energy harvesting and storage modules, and printed displays, are discussed. Emerging application areas of FHE in wearable health, structural health, industrial, environmental, and agricultural sensing are reviewed. Overall, the recent progress, fabrication, application, and challenges, and an outlook, related to FHE are presented.
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