Electronics printed in France

March 31, 2015 // By Julien Happich
During an industry meeting last week, the French association of printed electronics (Association Française de l'Électronique Imprimée or AFELIM) invited a number of key players including French startups and research labs to present their latest developments and give us an outlook of the market.

ISORG co-founder Laurent Jamet presented large-area printed organic optical sensors which he said could happily replace ITO-based capacitive technologies in today's touch screens. Not only the optical sensors are flexible and conformable, but they also support innovative 3D gestures and on-screen interactions.
The printed photodetectors operate in the near infrared, with a spectrum operation fully tuneable. They can be laid either below the LCD or OLED surface, or at the periphery of a display and detect a user’s fingers as they block or reflect infrared illumination from surrounding IR LEDs (integrated in a bezel).
This adds a depth effect that could have promising applications for gaming or for the manipulation of virtual 3D objects.

Such sensor arrays could also turn a whole display into a scanning area, ISORG has proven pixel resolutions down to 80 microns, fine enough to perform fingerprint authentication. Jamet mentioned that Intel was evaluating this technology for a new all-in-one computer concept.

Smart shelves and in-retail interactive advertising are also a very promising market for such optical sensors, according to Jamet. In the future, shelves could be covered with optical sensor films, each cell acting as a light sensor so when a consumer lifts a product from a shelf, the appropriate advertising or product promotion shows up on a nearby display.

These interactive surfaces could not only serve to manage shelf inventory for faster replenishment, but they would also gather data about which products attract the most customers, replacing today’s camera-based analytics. As for large advertising displays, these could be functionalized for 3D interaction, either in full or partially.

On the organic photovoltaic (OPV) front, marketing and development manager François Barreau at Armor looked at the flexible and semi-transparent OPV cells for urban furniture or even consumer solar rechargeable devices. "With printed OPV, we are not selling solar panels", he emphasized, "we enable new use cases for solar energy that cannot be addressed by traditional modules".

"Even with its comparatively low efficiency, according to a study carried out by Europeen project SUNFLOWER, OPV has the potential to be the technology producing the least grams of CO2 per kWh, with a very short energy payback time (within a month), just after hydro-electric energy", Barreau told the assembly.