Paper memory ready to roll

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By eeNews Europe

The researchers envisage their cheap paper memories to be used in applications such as sensor data recording, product originality marking, playing cards, interactive packaging and product information cards.

The write-once-read-many (WORM) memories can be fabricated directly on the product or packaging using flexographic or inkjet printing machines, common in the packaging industry. Each writable memory bit, measuring about 0.2×0.3mm each in the researchers’ experiments, consist of a mix of two commercially available silver nanoparticle inks, dried after a regular R2R printing process of the actual bits and their associated writing/reading electrodes.


A printed WORM memory bank with 26 bits (1mm pitch) with contact electrodes and a common electrode. The bit size is approximately 0.2×0.3mm.


Before writing, each bit is in the 1 state of high resistance. Writing a bit is performed by applying a low voltage (under 10V) across the bit, which in effect sinters adjacent silver nanoparticles and creates a path of least electrical resistance, hence turning the memory bit from a high resistivity ‘0’ state to a low resistivity ‘1’ state.

This sintering step is non-reversible, which means the data content of the memory is only written once, but it supports an unlimited number of read operations.

The VTT lab was able to print a roll length of 150m containing more than 10 000 printed WORM memory banks on a 125um thin heat stabilized PET substrate, but in prior research, it had demonstrated the sintering capability of the memory bits on paper.

Each memory bank consisted of a linear array of bits automatically die-cut on the R2R line. Then each bit could be read sequentially by measuring the resistance across it since there is typically an order of magnitude between the 0 and 1 states (a recent paper discussed a bit resistance dropping from R‘0’ of 1:4 kOhm to R‘1’ under 100Ohm during a write time under 5ms).

“For bigger memories with a need to limit the number of electrical contacts using a two-dimensional matrix structure of the bits, one would need to implement a diode in series with each bit or utilize a more elaborated readout electronics to cancel cross talk between the bits”, clarified Ari Alastalo, Principal Scientist at VTT in charge of printed and hybrid functionalities, printed sensors and electronic devices.

“In fact, the reading voltage is not limited by the WORM but by the readout electronics” explained Alastalo, “In fact, the WORM is just a resistance to be measured, and its bit size can be very small. It could be read using energy converted from RFID or an NFC reader” he added.

An interesting feature of this resistive WORM memory is that it could be read in a contactless fashion too. Instead of physically contacting the bits to measure their resistance, the bit resistance could be read through a capacitive near-field measurement with a sweep-over reader device.

As it is further testing and demonstrating the memory for different applications, VTT lab is searching for a partner to commercialise its patented process.

Visit VTT at

Related articles:

Fine prints and gigabits of data: on paper

Printed NFC tags detect opened goods

Printable flexible timer could smart up packaging


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