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No 18 | March 2017 |



OPE journal:

For those of our readers,

who are not yet familiar with CSEM: What

are the fields of research in your R&D

institute and how does its collaboration with

third parties from the industry usually look?

Giovanni Nisato:

CSEM is a private

research and technology organisation,

ensuring competitiveness through the

transfer of technologies and know-how

from fundamental research to industry. In

terms of competence areas, CSEM solutions

include microsystems, surface engineering,

integrated devices, MEMS and photovoltaic.

CSEM functions rather as an extended

branch of R&D facilities for most of our

clients. Every work is project-based, and

specific teams are assembled to provide

flexible, professional services to our clients.

We are used to working with different

industries and are used to deal pragmatically

and constructively with matters of IP for

example. CSEM developed considerable

expertise and industrial networks (Switzer-

land and worldwide), including companies

throughout the value chain of printed

electronics as well as its end users. CSEM

clean room facilities include state-of-the art

equipment for process developments. CSEM

is actively developing printable energy sca-

venging (OPV) and storage (flexible printed,

rechargeable batteries) solutions. CSEM

hybrid electronics are deployed in domains

such as optical sensors for aerospace appli-

cation as well as “artificial skin” for human-

machine interaction with robotic arms.

Starting from optical device simulation,

CSEM produces high precision tooling

compatible with large scale manufacturing

including roll to roll hot embossing, injection

moulding or UV casting. The applications

for printed electronics include efficiency

enhancement foils for OPV and OLED

light management. We are developing

several electrochemical printed sensors,

including for pH, glucose and several

ions. Moreover, CSEM is developing the

WeST wearable device platform for activity

monitoring consumer health and fitness.

The sensors can further be deployed in

smart disposables for the life-sciences.

OPE journal:

Wearable sensing has

become a buzzword in consumer electro-

nics. How can printed electronics enhance

and improve current wearable solutions?

G. Nisato:

Current wearable technology

offers already amazing opportunities to

measure, analyse and relay vital signs.

For example, one can measure heart rate

optically with medical-grade accuracy

(CSEM has technologies to do this among

others). However, there are areas of further

developments. For example when it comes

to interfacing with chemical measurement

on the skin. This can be needed to measure

analytes to give feedback for training or

performance for athletes, as one can extract

information from sweat on hydration level

and electrolytes. These devices need to have

disposable units for hygiene and that means

that cost effective production methods

have to be deployed. Further, many existing

measurement concepts rely on electrodes

that could be directly integrated in the

fabric to have larger contact areas with the

human body. These point to technologies

that are flexible, thin, conformable and cost

effective in large volume. These require-

ments match extremely well the characte-

ristics of printed electronic technologies.

Other opportunities include a more

seamless integration of energy sources and

energy storage. For example flexible, organic

solar cells can be integrated design-wise in

sportswear. Thin, printed batteries can be

integrated as well and distributed on the

surface of backpacks for example, which

can be beneficial from a weight distribution.

From a wireless communication point of

view, printed electronics can provide ways

to integrate antennas that are seamlessly

integrated in the fabric of wearables.

And the most immediate applications will

probably be apparently simple but still

challenging the replacement of wires for

power supply and interconnectivity. The

future of wearable, distributed sensing

and computing is just beginning and we

can imagine a future where we will be

wearing more computers than we have

actual computer hardware in our houses.

The vision of

“human-centric sensing”

Giovanni Nisato, business and technology development senior manager at the Swiss-

based institute CSEM, talks about some of the latest advancements in printed

electronics for consumer applications

Giovanni Nisato