Dielectrophoretic roll system for high performance electronics using contactless selective assembly of nanostructures on large areas

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


The miniaturization led advances in micro/nanoelectronics over the last more than 50 years have revolutionized computing and communication and has enabled fast digital technologies touching life in almost all traditional socio-economic sectors today. Yet, as revolutionary as micro/nanoelectronics has been, in its current form, the production processes it follows are inherently and unavoidably wasteful and require vast quantities of water, energy, and land. There is clearly a need for new resource efficient and environment friendly routes for electronics manufacturing, without losing its transformative power. Electronics industry will hugely benefit by the development of such an equipment and DIELECT is an ambitious endeavour in this direction.

DIELECT will develop world's first contactless roll to roll (R2R) dielectrophoresis (DEP) based equipment to obtain high-performance nanostructures (e.g., nanowire)) based electronic layers, devices, and circuits on large area (>100cm2). The overarching goal is to develop resource-efficient R2R DEP based pilot line allowing high-throughput assembly of NWs-based electronic layers and demonstrate their use for development of high-performance devices (e.g., sensors (temperature/photodetectors), transparent conductors, and CMOS circuits in various form-factors (inc. flexible electronics). The disruptive electronics manufacturing enabled by proposed equipment, will lead to low fabrication cost, and reduced material wastage and low energy usage. Through smaller and resource efficient units, DIELECT could enable the decentralized fabrication and thus bring a paradigm shift in the electronics manufacturing, i.e., from huge facilities for conventional IC fabrication, to several smaller units delivering the same output.

Successful development and commercialisation of DIELECT will provide the UK with a much-needed domestic source of high-performance ICs whilst positioning the country at the forefront of green electronics and low-impact additive manufacturing. Lightweight and embedded printed electronics will resonate particularly strongly with nationally important manufacturing sectors, not least electric vehicles and aerospace. Printed electronics have the potential to replace many automotive electronic circuits, reducing system weight dramatically whilst enabling the seamless integration of electronics with the physical structure of the automobile. Leveraging innovations such as DIELECT, sensors and displays can be laminated directly into the dashboard and door trimmings, eliminating the bulk and weight of supporting PCBs and harnesses. Substituting PCBs with plastic substrates will further improve the recyclability of end-of-life vehicles. Low-cost additive manufacturing methods such as the R2R DEP techniques incorporated in DIELECT will enable the creation of a world-leading centre for the design and production of high-performance printed inorganic CMOS electronics. By eliminating the need for costly photolithography masks and UV exposure systems, SMEs and global innovators alike will more readily design and test new circuits, thereby accelerating the innovation, certification, and production cycle. The benefits of domestic IC production will transcend industry, from medical devices to aerospace and automotive electronics.


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