May 16, 2016 at 4:24 pm

NQPI | Redefining Microelectronics

By Amanda Biederman
NQPI editorial intern

A jacket that functions as a digital wallet or a blood glucose monitor may seem futuristic, but Ohio University electrical engineering and computer science professor and Nanoscale & Quantum Phenomena Institute member Savas Kaya is developing a technology to make these devices possible within three to five years.

Dr. Savas Kaya

Dr. Savas Kaya

Kaya’s lab is creating “printed electronics” to incorporate wireless communication devices into ordinary items, using a low-cost, high efficiency system. With this technology, almost any surface—plastic, paper, textile or pavement—could have embedded sensors or its own microchip computer. Kaya’s lab is aiming to use printed electronics in microfluidic systems to control the flow of solutions within these devices. A set of tiny capillary channels designed to function in tandem located in close proximity to the printed sensors and electronics can enhance microfluidics devices and transfer data wirelessly.

Printed electronics in Kaya’s lab are created by using an inkjet printer and a microplotter. The inkjet expels a solution in a specific configuration, layer by layer. The microplotter, which functions similarly to a fountain pen, contains a glass capillary tube that is used to create fine patterns at a resolution of just a few microns.

The devices that are being used for the project were funded through an Ohio University 1804 Award Kaya received last summer. The project was also supported by NQPI and the Condensed Matter & Surface Science program. Previously, Kaya’s lab began developing these techniques using a standard inkjet computer printer that lacked sophistication and resolution needed for complex structures.

Kaya said he envisions the development of numerous novel devices, including patient health and environmental monitors as well as home gas sensors. He said the technology might even eliminate the need for firemen, policemen and servicemen to carry unwieldy equipment for sensing and communication.

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