Stretchable substrate film for soft printed electronics

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Researchers at  Panasonic in the US have developed a new thermoset stretchable film that can be used a a substrate for printed electronics

The team at the Electronic Materials Division developed the material, called Beyolex, using a proprietary non-silicone thermoset polymer chemistry developed at the Electronic Materials laboratory in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan.

The stretchable film is 100 microns in thickness but can stretch to three times its original length with less than 0.1 percent permanent deformation after 100 percent stretching. It is also 90 percent transparent.

“We view electronic materials based on this polymer technology as enabling an entire new class of soft and pliable electronic devices,” said Andy Behr, Technology Manager at Panasonic Electronic Materials.

Traditional printed electronic substrates like polyester and polyimide films are not pliable, stretchable, or soft, but silicone-based films can be incompatible with standard electronic materials and processes. Thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) are commonly used as a substrate for pliable printed electronics, but these films have low temperature resistance and can be prone to permanent deformation after being strained.

The substrate is delivered on a high temperature Polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) carrier for mechanical stability during processing and a thin Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or polyester) coversheet for protection. The high surface energy of the substrate makes it compatible with a wide variety of functional inks and pastes, including screen-printed stretchable silver composite pastes; sintered metal pastes and liquid metals like eutectic Indium Gallium alloys.

It can withstand temperatures up to 300C and has a breakdown voltage 98 KV/mm so that it can be used in many end-use applications. Panasonic sees the maerial being used in health/wellness, automotive, sensors, haptics, Internet of Things (IoT), gaming, augmented reality (AR), soft robotics and aerospace.

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“This novel non-silicone polymer resin system exhibits amazing properties when made into a film,” said Takatoshi Abe, Research Manager, Panasonic Electronic Materials Division and Co-inventor of the Beyolex technology. “We think this technology – which our team developed, patented, and commercialized – can be the foundation for many new innovative products that will improve people’s lives.”

The Beyolex film is initially available as Panasonic product number MUAS13111AA: A4 size (210mm x 300mm) sheets, 5 sheets per package. Custom configurations, roll, or sheet sizes may be available depending on minimum order quantities.

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