Researcher from the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC) in Belgium and its associated laboratory at Ghent University presented this week during the Smart Systems Integration Conference in Brussels their newly developed UTCP (ultra-thin chip package) technology which can be seen as a big boost towards fully integrated, complex electronic into textiles.
UTCP allows the integration of complete systems in a conventional low-cost flex substrate. For the integration, the chip is first thinned down to 25 micron and embedded in a flexible ultra-thin chip package.
Next, the package is embedded in a standard double-layer flex printed circuit board (PCB) using standard flex PCB production techniques. After embedding, other components can be mounted above and below the embedded chip, leading to a high-density integration.
By thinning down the chips for UTCP embedding, they become mechanically flexible resulting in an increased flexibility of the complete system, making it unobtrusive and comfortable to wear.
IMEC demonstrated the integration technology with a prototype flexible wireless monitor that measures the heart rate and muscle activity (see IMEC photo above).
All this sounds very good and let’s hope this technology can make it in ‘reasonable short time’ to become available to designer ind manufacturer. The potential for a swift turnaround is high considering the relatively simple production method described by IMEC. UTCP could bring a lot of intelligence to textiles.