Imagine a lamp that is not fixed to the ceiling, but that can be designed into any shape, or even blend into the surroundings. This would give a tremendous design freedom. Think of curtains that emit light to mimic the natural, daytime situation, children with illuminating jackets to safely bike home from school, or even bandages that shine light on the body to treat skin diseases or for infrared massage. If the light were complemented by electronics and sensors, and could be combined into any combination of choice, even more possibilities arise: flexible displays, plasters that monitor vital signs, the possibilities are endless. This view on the future of (opto-) electronic applications is exactly what will be made possible through the PLACE-it project.
The project aims at the development of a technology platform for lightweight, thin and conformable opto-electronic systems.
Two application areas will profit heavily from the developments in the PLACE-it project :
“On the body” healthcare and wellness applications, e.g.
- Skin diseases treatment
- Adaptation of the circadian rhythm, e.g. for night shift workers or on intercontinental flights
- Relief of muscular pain or ‘comfort’ lighting
- Monitoring of organ functions or other body parameters, e.g. blood flow
Consumer product design freedom, e.g.
- Lamp designed into any shape, e.g. head light in a car compartment
- Light emitting curtains
- Signage in clothing
- Fashion with integrated electronics
In the envisaged application fields, the functionality is distributed over some area, and that area is an integral part of the system (examples are a light emitting area, clothing with sensors, curtains, car roof top, bandage, etc.). Therefore large area technologies and large area manufacturing are necessary. As electronic circuits will contain either (small) rigid and flexible components or interposers, the conformability will only be achieved by the carrier substrate and the interconnections. Substrates with the potential to meet this requirement are flexible, stretchable and textile-based electronic circuits. They have therefore been selected as base technologies for the realisation of the envisioned systems.
A very important aspect when combining different substrates and technologies is the interfacing between the parts. With the technological know-how in the consortium, and by simulations with experimental verification, robust interfaces will be designed and developed. At the end, the design rules for a conformable opto-electronic system will be very important.