Circuit-Sensor-Integration A Step Towards the "Electronic Skin“

Flexible elektronische Haut mit Magnetsensoren und einer komplexen elektronischen Schaltung zur Erfassung der Magnetfeldverteilung.
Flexible electronic skin with magnetic sensors and a complex electronic circuit to detect the distribution of magnetic fields.

With the production of the first fully integrated component consisting of magnetic sensors and organic electronics, researchers from Chemnitz, Dresden and Osaka have taken an important step on the way to the "electronic skin".

There are already thin and flexible sensors that can also function on soft and elastic surfaces, register various physical interactions and transmit them via a kind of artificial nervous system. However, the networking and control of the sensors in demonstrators has so far been very unsatisfactory.

In order to realize contacting and control without wiring, it would be necessary to integrate individual magnetic sensors with other electronic components such as signal amplifiers and to develop fully integrated systems - a technological step of similar magnitude as the transition from circuitry to the integrated microchip once represented.

Researchers from Dresden, Chemnitz and Osaka have presented a new magnetic sensor system that is designed to take this integration to a level never before achieved. It consists of an arrangement of 2 by 4 magnetic sensors, an organic bootstrap shift register for controlling the sensor matrix and organic signal amplifiers.

The special feature: All electronic components are based on organic thin film transistors and are integrated in a single platform. The system has a high magnetic sensitivity and maps the two-dimensional magnetic field distribution in real time. It is robust against mechanical deformation such as bending, creasing or buckling.

Prof. Dr. Oliver G. Schmidt, Director at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden and Dr. Daniil Karnaushenko on the next steps: "Our first integrated magnetic functions prove that flexible thin-film sensors can be integrated into complex organic circuits. The compatibility and flexibility of these devices is essential for modern and future applications such as soft robotics, implants and prosthetics. The next step is to increase the number of sensors per surface and to extend the electronic skin to larger surfaces".