Flexible Plastic Sensor Mines Silver At Sensors Expo West

Sensors Insights by Mat Dirjish

At Sensors Expo West, June 2017, competition was tough for awards in the innovation and applications categories. When it comes to sensor applications, we had some heavy contenders, well established industry leaders with top notch engineering teams, proving once again it takes more than a step stool to rise above the pack. For this year’s best sensor applications awards, we had some very impressive contenders. In fact, the list of genuinely unique and innovative applications was long and wide, far too huge to enter here.

There are four award levels: Gold or first position, followed by Silver (second position), Bronze (third), and Honorable Mention (fourth). Just a note again about the competition, it is so stiff that getting an Honorable Mention is a daunting feat in itself.

Taking the Silver applications award this year is a very unique, 500-dpi large-area fingerprint sensor on plastic for biometric applications, created by ISORG. Introduced as ISORG’s first large-sized high-resolution (500 dpi) flexible plastic fingerprint sensor, the sensor was co-developed with FlexEnable, a company devoted to flexible electronics with the vision of active surfaces in homes, cars, workplaces, and on human bodies. FlexEnable works together with partners, like ISORG, to drive innovation across video-rate displays, sensors, and smart systems.

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The Silver Winner

The high-resolution, ultra-thin, 500-dpi flexible image sensor is sensitive from visible to near infrared. It will provide system integrators with unique advantages in both performance and compactness.

Setting it apart from conventional image sensors, one of the device’s many notable features is its ability to conform to three-dimensional shapes. It provides dual detection: fingerprinting and vein matching. Due to its large sensing area and high-resolution image quality, the sensor proves most valuable and desirable in biometric applications from fingerprint scanners and smartcards to mobile phones, where accuracy and robustness as well as cost-competiveness are critical concerns.

Figure 1

Designed on a 3 in. x 3.2 in. (7.62 cm x 8.13 cm) plastic substrate, the flexible image sensor is ultra-thin, measuring 300-µm thick. This translates into a significantly lightweight and compact device that is highly resistant to shock.

At the core of the 500-dpi flexible image sensor is an organic photodiode (OPD); described as a printed structure developed by Isorg that converts light into current. The OPD is responsible for capturing the fingerprint. Isorg also developed the readout electronics, processing software, and optics to enable seamless integration in products. FlexEnable developed the Organic TFT backplane technology, an alternative to amorphous silicon.



Figure 2

Several biometric solution providers have sampled the flexible image sensor and have verified viability for deployment in products and compliance with FBI Image Quality Standards (IQS). Isorg is planning to launch high-volume production of the flexible image sensor at its plant in Limoges, France.

Regarding the award, Emmanuel Guerineau, general manager and CFO at Isorg said, “Isorg is very honored to have received an international award for our groundbreaking high-resolution flexible image sensor technology whilst attending the most important global trade event dedicated to sensor innovations. We are delighted to have collaborated with FlexEnable to produce the world’s first printed electronics image sensor that overcomes the limitations of traditional sensors. Biometric solution providers will be able to take advantage of the key differentiating factors that our technology brings, such as customized formats in large and small sizes, and easy integration. We see these opening up new opportunities across multiple applications.”

Paul Cain, strategy director at FlexEnable, concurred, “We are delighted that the large area flexible fingerprint sensor we developed with Isorg has been recognized with such a prestigious award. Thanks to being thin, light and glass-free, the sensor can be conformed to almost any surface to enable new form factors and use cases not possible with conventional fingerprint sensors.”

I must say, I was equally honored to present the award at Sensors Expo & Conference West 2017. We can only assume that next year’s competition will be greater still. ~MD


About the Author

Mat Dirjish is the Executive Editor of Sensors magazine. Before coming on board, he covered the test and measurement and embedded systems market for Electronic Products Magazine, after which he spent thirteen years covering the electronic components market for EE Product News and Electronic Design magazines. He also has an extensive background in high-end audio/video design, modification, servicing, and installation.

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