Funding, Grants & Awards

Indiana Schools Expand Footprint in Flexible Hybrid Electronics

Two Indiana universities will be tapping into an amply funded federal program designed to expand the nation's flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing sector. Researchers from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and Purdue University are participants in a $75 million Department of Defense award given to a San Jose, CA-based organization.

The FlexTech Alliance, as it's called, won the award to launch a Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII). The federal money will be amplified with an additional $96 million in cost sharing from non-federal sources. FlexTech is made up of 42 universities, 11 laboratories and non-profits, 96 companies and 14 state and regional organizations undertaking numerous activities. FHE MII is one of several manufacturing innovation programs set up under a White House initiative to promote advanced manufacturing in the United States.

The overall goal of the alliance is to research and develop the technology behind flexible hybrid electronics, which integrates thin silicon electronic devices, sensing elements, communications and power on non-traditional flexible substrates. The work brings together innovations in integrated circuitry, graphics printing and electronic assembly and packaging.

The $13 million Indiana "node" of the project will be led by the two institutions. The IUPUI campus hosts the Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute, which specializes in nanotech materials, batteries, sensors and creation of flexible hybrid electronics components and systems.

"The technology development that will be realized from flexible hybrid electronics fits well with IUPUI's strategic research plan focused on urban health and wellbeing," said Mangilal Agarwal, who directs the institute and will lead the IUPUI FlexTech team. "That strategy envisions numerous areas where flexible hybrid electronics will be applicable, like implantable and wearable smart sensors that can assist in improving daily lives by continuously monitoring human functions to administer life-saving treatments."

Research at Purdue will emphasize "roll-to-roll nanomanufacturing," among other areas. The university's Printing SMART Film initiative is developing economical printing and manufacturing methods for aware-responsive films, which can record data and provide real-time feedback.

"This national effort builds on Purdue’s engineering strengths as we pursue advances as part of a broader nanomanufacturing initiative at Birck where we focus on roll-to-roll production of smart thin films for applications in pharmacy and agriculture," said Ali Shakouri, an electrical and computer engineering professor and director at the university's Birck Nanotechnology Center.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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