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Foundational Work for the NextFlex Materials & Process Database Now Underway

By Scott Miller, Director of Strategic Programs, NextFlex

It is widely recognized in the flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) manufacturing community that we have a wealth of material and processing options. That is both a blessing and a curse because materials properties are often strongly dependent on processing conditions. The interdependence of properties on material selection and process recipe forces designers to become familiar with fabrication processes, which is not an ideal long-term situation.

The availability of high quality material property data linked to processing conditions has the potential to reduce or eliminate this requirement. This is a driving assumption behind the creation of the NextFlex Materials and Process Database which can capture “data cubes” relating materials, processing, and properties. In addition, we hypothesize that integrated modeling and design tools supported by this data and combined with design rules from the FHE process design kit (PDK) (NextFlex project led by HPE) will accelerate the design cycle for FHE devices. NextFlex just kicked off an 18-month Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)-sponsored project to address this foundational engineering problem and test the hypothesis. The project will populate “data cubes” for substrate and printed conductor materials and use them to design, model, and test antennae as simple examples of FHE devices.

As a project team, the NextFlex Technology Hub, Binghamton University, UMass Lowell, and SI2 Technologies are working together. Several government labs – AFRL, Army Research Lab, the Laboratory for Physical Sciences, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane – are participating in the project as well. At the end of the project, the completed data cubes will be made available to the NextFlex membership through the NextFlex Materials and Process Database.

For more information on the project, contact Scott Miller.