FLEXIBLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE MODELLING

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Engineering

Abstract

Largely driven by material scientists, the flexible electronic research thus far has focussed on the materials and fabrication techniques. Whilst these are important areas, device modelling and circuit design is critical for taking the research closer to manufacturing. The acceptable degree of bendability for reliable operation of devices and circuits is a question that has not been addressed so far. This is a challenging because the standard transistor models for circuit simulation programs such as SPICE do not take into account the dynamic bendability induced effects. FLEXELDEMO will address these challenges by systematically characterizing the ultra-thin chips, identifying various parameters that change with bending, and suggesting improved BSIM models for devices over bendable substrates.

This project has several anticipated benefits over a range of time-scales. In the short-term, this project will substantially improve our understanding of changes in various device parameters as a result of bending (uni-axial, bi-axial or twisting etc.), which has traditionally been under-studied. In the medium-term, it will enable designing of electronics on bendable substrate and predicting the behaviour of bendable electronics just like we do currently for planar electronics. In the long-term, the project will lead to intelligent use of bendability in improving circuit design. For example, location or shape dependent strain-field variations will be used to design location-/shape-aware circuits or to compensate electronic artefacts (e.g. self-calibration). The approach could also lead to design on bendable electronics based on ensemble of nanowires.

Formulating the design rules and integration strategies through modelling will help in stabilizing the nascent flexible electronics technology. By adequately supporting the fabrication activities with modelling and simulation, this project will add significant new perspective to the fields of flexible electronics and electronics design.

Planned Impact

Flexible electronic research thus far has focussed on the materials and fabrication techniques. Whilst these are important areas, device modelling and circuit design is critical for taking the research closer to manufacturing. The acceptable degree of bendability for reliable operation of devices and circuits is a question that has not been addressed so far. Such interactions have not been practically and scientifically investigated, due in part to the lack of suitable transistor models for circuit simulation programs such as SPICE. FLEXELDEMO will address these challenges by systematically characterizing the ultra-thin chips, identifying various parameters that change with bending, and suggesting improved BSIM models for devices over bendable substrates. . These investigations will also open up new areas of academic and industrial interest. For example, circuit designers will have to consider bending related changes in device response, which is challenging as existing computer aided design tools are not sufficient for such accommodating such inputs. This project has several anticipated benefits over a range of time-scales. In the short-term, this project will substantially improve our understanding of changes in various device parameters as a result of bending (uni-axial, bi-axial or twisting etc.), which has traditionally been under-studied. In the medium-term, it will enable designing of electronics on bendable substrate and predicting the behaviour of bendable electronics just like we do currently for planar electronics. In the long-term, the project will lead to intelligent use of bendability in improving circuit design. For example, location or shape dependent strain-field variations will be used to design location-/shape-aware circuits or to compensate electronic artefacts (e.g. self-calibration). The approach could also lead to design on bendable electronics based on ensemble of nanowires. Formulating the design rules and integration strategies through modelling will help in stabilizing the nascent flexible electronics technology. By adequately supporting the fabrication activities with modelling and simulation, this project will add significant new perspective to the fields of flexible electronics and electronics design.
 
Description The initial results from this project indicate that the output of electronics changes with bending of chips. This is because the mobility is dependent on the stress.
Exploitation Route I am collaborating with local company in the area of computer aided design of electronics. I aim to transfer the models developed from this project to this company and to others.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics

 
Description I have participated in knowledge exchange and public engagement activities.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Scholarship
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Glasgow 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2019
 
Description PhD Studentship
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/L016753/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2016 
End 04/2020
 
Description Royal Society Grant
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2014 
End 03/2015
 
Description CPD Lecture at Scottish Schools Education Research Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This CPD Lecture (on Electronic Touch) was organised by Scottish Schools Education Research Centre for teachers from Schools. The talk sparked discussion around more such lectures and teachers reported increased interest in organising such lectures in schools. Recently funding from Royal Academy of Engineering will allow me to achieve this.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.sserc.org.uk/index.php/cpd-roundup
 
Description CPD event at Scottish Schools Education Research Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I was invited by Scottish Schools Education Research Centre for a CPD event for teachers from various Scottish Schools. The lecture during this CPD event initiated discussion on enriching STEM courses by including the subject area presented in my lecture. This event also led to plan for further engagements with schools (going to schools) and I also secured funding from Royal Academy of Engineering for this purpose.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.sserc.org.uk/index.php/cpd-roundup
 
Description Demonstration at Explorathon - European Researchers Night 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Some of the research prototypes were demonstrated on this European researchers night day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.explorathon.co.uk
 
Description Explorathon - European Researchers Night, Glasgow Science Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact My team was selected to present our research at Exploration - European Researchers Night (funded by European Commission). More than 200 visitors (general public, kids, pupils from schools etc.) visited our booth and gained from the demos related to touch based prosthetics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.explorathon.co.uk/glasgow
 
Description Global Leadership Board meeting of Weir Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Research brief on Future felxible Electronics and electronic skin during Global Leadership Board meeting of Weir Group Plc
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Ingenious Public Engagement Award 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The award funded by Royal Academy of Engineering supports 7 engineers (including myself) from my group who are visiting (this is an ongoing activity) 15 schools in Scotland to explain the working of various touch screen interfaces (including flexible/bendable interfaces) which we developed in lab through support from EPSRC impact acceleration account. After completion of school visits, the prototypes are to be placed in Glasgow Science Centre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Interview in BBC Radio 'NewsDrive' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The key aspect of electronic skin research were shared with public through this interview. Also future plans were discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited to the 2016 Medical Devices Outward Mission to Taiwan by British Office in Taiwan 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This business group (I also led the group on final day of the ) on biomedical sector involved 4 academic and industry members from UK who visited many Taiwanese institutes over 3 days. The group visited 2 universities, more than 10 companies and ITRI, a leading institute in Hsinchu Science park, which acts as a bridge between academia and industry in Taiwan. The visit was organised by Foreign and Commonwealth Office through its British Office's Science and Innovation network in Taiwan. The interaction (involving lecturers, one-to-one meetings, industry visits etc.) led to follow up discussions and potential collaborations are being discussed now.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/uk-science-and-innovation-network
 
Description National Science Museum's Antenna programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was invited to participate in National Science Museum's commentary on their display related to tactile skin technology. This was part of Science Museum's Antenna programme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description New student club on 3D printed smart prosthetics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact The club named 'Helping Hands' has brought together around 50 undergraduate and postgraduate students around the topic of 3D printed prosthetics (with touch enabled parts). The seed funding (£6K) for the club was obtained from Chancellors' fund through open competition. Following the formation of club I also received another £12K from EPSRC impact acceleration account to ensure sustainability and reach of this club. I am now working with NHS and a charitable trust (having presence in 31 countries) to provide students club a much wider reach.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.gla.ac.uk/about/givingtoglasgow/chancellorsfund/
 
Description Question of Science - Quiz 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In recognition with my significant participation in the knowledge exchange activities, I was invited to join Glasgow University table at the Question of Science - annual Quiz competition organised by Glasgow Science Centre. Our team was the winner. About 30 teams (each with 8-10 members) participated in this event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.glasgowsciencecentre.org/events-by-gsc/previous-events-a-question-of-science.html
 
Description TEDx Glasgow talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was invited to speak at TEDx Glasgow. This was about tactile skin in robotics and prosthetics. I also presented key aspects of my grant.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.tedxglasgow.com