Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Hardware Technology

The World's First Flexible Organic Microprocessor 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-wait-for-free-range-cpus dept.
An anonymous reader writes "European researchers at Imec recently announced the development of the world's first flexible organic microprocessor at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco CA. 'The 4000-transistor, 8-bit logic circuit has the processing power of only a 1970s-era silicon model, but it has a key advantage—it can bend. The device’s designers say the chip could lead the way to cheaper flexible displays and sensors. Wrapped around pipes, for example, sheets of sensors with these processors could record average water pressure, and wrapped around food and pharmaceuticals, they might indicate that your tuna is rancid or that you forgot to take your pills.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The World's First Flexible Organic Microprocessor

Comments Filter:
  • ..they might indicate that your tuna is rancid...

    My god, man, where are you getting your tuna from?

    • by rvw (755107)

      ..they might indicate that your tuna is rancid...

      My god, man, where are you getting your tuna from?

      Don't mind him. He forgot to take his pills!

    • It's a truly lazy person who needs a microprocessor to detect rancid tuna.
      • by mangu (126918)

        It's a truly lazy person who needs a microprocessor to detect rancid tuna.

        Do they let you open each can in a supermarket shelf to find out which ones are rancid?

    • by Raenex (947668)

      My god, man, where are you getting your tuna from?

      You don't want to know.

  • by lixee (863589) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:10PM (#35312796)
    I haven't seen the device, but this is not an all-organic device. From TFA, at least part of the electrodes are made of gold. Moreover, they use pentacene as a semiconductor, which is probably deposited with CVD. The IEEE article is tagged with "printed electronics" and I seriously doubt they managed to make this using the soluble form of pentacene (i.e. TIPS-pentacene). Still, this is not to poop on the achevement. It's a nifty feat and congrats to the team that managed to make this.
    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      Fabricating the 25-micrometer-thick chip starts with a substrate made from polyethylene naphthalate—a plastic. ”You could compare it to the material that you use to wrap your sandwiches,” says Genoe. ”It’s very flexible.” On top, the team placed a 25-nanometer-thick layer of gold, patterned to make the circuit. Above that sits an organic dielectric, followed by a second patterned gold layer, and finally the organic semiconductor, made of pentacene.

      What makes pentacene inorganic, again? And nowhere did they claim it was 100% organic...

      • by lixee (863589)
        Pentacene is organic. I was refering to the fact that this is tagged in TFA as "printed electronics" when it's not. Like I said, this is a nifty device that deserve applause and recognition. I was just putting things in perspective.
    • Last I checked, gold was naturally-occurring - and therefore organic.

      I don't think they're trying to say it has 0 chemical or carbon footprint for manufacture, but that all the materials it is made of are natural/organic.

      • Last I checked, gold was naturally-occurring - and therefore organic.

        I don't think they're trying to say it has 0 chemical or carbon footprint for manufacture, but that all the materials it is made of are natural/organic.

        I don't think they're using the "organic food" definition of organic, but the chemistry definition of organic.

      • Last I checked, gold was naturally-occurring - and therefore organic

        That's not my definition of organic. or else most of the earth is organic too ;)

  • But... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...will it blend?

  • by Spykk (823586) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:14PM (#35312828)
    Microprocessors have become small enough that flexibility isn't necessary for the applications cited in the summary. I can't really think of any situations where a flexible microprocessor would be more appropriate than a suitably small one...
    • by pz (113803)

      Microprocessors have become small enough that flexibility isn't necessary for the applications cited in the summary. I can't really think of any situations where a flexible microprocessor would be more appropriate than a suitably small one...

      That certainly seems to make sense. The only thing I wonder about is making electrical connections to things that are that small, either to attach power, or to attach sensors. My understanding of the flexible circuitry field is that one of the main goals is not just flexibility, but printability, so that the NRE and manufacturing and NRE costs are very, very low. Building circuitry with sensors made out of low-cost ink printed on paper or an inexpensive plastic means the same hulking printers used to mak

      • Building circuitry with sensors made out of low-cost ink printed on paper or an inexpensive plastic means the same hulking printers used to make labels can be used to make smart labels. But since it's not my field, I might just be full of hooey.

        :) Like print it on a bundle of papers and make a cluster out of them? :D

    • by SkOink (212592)

      I would assume the big advantage comes in new applications benefiting from their flexibility, such as the pipe pressure sensors mentioned in the OP. While I agree there's no need to worry about saving space, there could be significant cost reduction and easier complexity if you could actually build your microprocessor on the same flexible substrate as your pressure sensor.

    • The "global communicator" used in earth final conflict. Huge screen, the size of a big pen. Or small screen : roll it out halfway ...

    • by reiisi (1211052)

      A bike chain is not really all that flexible, even in the direction of the hinging.

      Also, I have seen, recently, bicycles with rubber belts (with teeth). I'm not sure why, but some people seem to think they are worth manufacturing.

      Flexibility has its uses. In this case, the flexibility may be useful at scales where the simply small well tend to bind, much the way a bike chain will tend to bind.

  • ... or that you forgot to take your pills.

    I did forget, thanks!

  • by thomasdz (178114) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:16PM (#35312854)

    I like my semiconductors happy, free-run, pesticide free, and grown on certified hobby farms. I'm glad the official organic label has finally been applied.
    and no, I didn't RTFA

    • by Kaz Kylheku (1484)

      The official "organic" is stupid, because many organic compounds are not of biological origin; e.g. fluorinated or chlorinated hydrocarbons. Even compounds carbon-silicon bonds are called "organosilicon".

      Then there is the problem that some molecules in living things have inorganic components, like organo-metallic compounds (haemoglobin, chlorophyll, ...).

      The "organic food" people have reclaimed the word for a use which is closer to what it suggests: originating in the organs of a living thing.

      A pesticide w

      • The "organic food" people have reclaimed the word for a use which is closer to what it suggests: originating in the organs of a living thing.

        In other words the neo-Luddite "organic food" people have rekindled vitalism.

  • 'The 4000-transistor, 8-bit logic circuit has the processing power of only a 1970s-era silicon model, but it has a key advantage—it can bend.

    Did anyone else read "it can blend"?

    • Did anyone else read "it can blend"?

      I did, and the question remains.

      An organic processor blended with Vodka and tomato juice, on ice, would give an entire new meaning to "running JavaScript benchmarks on V8"

    • I didn't think about blending (although it's an interesting thought, would these tend (statistically) to survive a blender or to be blended by a blender?

      But what I noticed is that 4000 would be a bit over half the transistors necessary for a 6809, and that induced a daydream about running a bunch of OS9-6809 hardware instances in the bracelet you give your wife. Or having a cluster of TRS 80 Color Computers in your belt.

  • Not to knock the tech but how was microchip rigidity stopping you from putting these sensors in the lids/walls of these containers (tuna can, pill bottle, pipes) before? It's not like any of them bend much in their usage...

  • by sv_libertarian (1317837) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:49PM (#35313208) Journal
    I've always wanted a can of tuna that can run CP/M
  • ...it has a key advantageâ"it can bend.

    Meh. Let me know when it can blend.

  • Why not just make the pipes cubic instead of round :P
    • by Kaz Kylheku (1484)

      Pipes often have to withstand pressure. A square pipe is suboptimal for pressure.

      A pressurized cylinder expands evenly all around, but a pressurized prism will pincushion, leading to a large concentration of stress at the corners.

      Thus a square pipe would have to be a lot thicker to achieve the same maximum pressure rating as a round pipe made from the same material.

      Round pipes are easier to route. A pre-formed elbow piece fitted to a round pipe can be rotated in any direction.

      Low pressure ducts (e.g. air du

  • So...instead of being called hardware, these would be...software? I'm so confused!

  • A bicycle chain is made of rigid links, yet appears flexible. Objects flexible on a large scale don't have to be made up of small-scale components which are themselves flexible.

    A flexible film can contain tiny inflexible chips.

    Suppose a thin film, like food wrap, is bent to a curvature of 0.25 cm radius. That's not actually a significant curvature on the scale of something that is much smaller than a millimeter.

    It does sound like these engineers touting the flexibility of the processor not because it's an i

FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies.

Working...