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Science Hardware

Flexible Circuits By the Slice 10

MTorrice writes "Researchers have demonstrated a way to make high performance, flexible integrated circuits using almost exclusively standard equipment and materials already needed to make conventional chips. Such a method could allow electronics manufacturers to build new devices, such as smart medical implants and flexible displays, without needing to significantly overhaul current production protocols. The method, developed by researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, started with researchers patterning integrated circuits on silicon wafers using a standard production line. They then cut off the top 20 to 30 micrometers of the wafer using a thin wire—like slicing a block of cheese—to produce a thin, flexible platter of circuits."
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Flexible Circuits By the Slice

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  • by PaulBu ( 473180 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @06:52PM (#41836317) Homepage

    Yes, 1-3 mil thinned wafers feel like a piece of plastic, easily flapping around (though, I would not want to literally bend them at 90 or 180 degrees at small radius and expect them to still work). If you ever had a chance to handle a thin microscope cover slip (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cover_slip), you would know how it feels, especially if you imagine that it is 4-8 inches in diameter -- pretty flexible, monocrystalline, or not.

    And, a (seemingly much more reliable) version of the process has been around for years, involves [polishing the backside of the wafer, instead of trying to "slice" through Si with a wire. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wafer_backgrinding [wikipedia.org] . By the way, after your wafer is polished down to couple of mil thickness, you can etch vias through it and deposit backside metal, to serve as a groundplane -- not a big deal for CMOS, but pretty big for high-power low-layer-count RF GaAs/InP chips.

    Paul B.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson