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Wearable Electronics Advance

Photonics.com
Mar 2009
BRUSSELS, Belgium, March 12, 2009 -- Technologists in Belgium have slimmed down a chip package to less than 60 µm and integrated it onto a low-cost, flexible substrate. The resulting ultrathin chip package (UTCP) with embedded microcontroller could pave the way to inexpensive, unobtrusive wearable electronics for monitoring the heart and body functions.

The new 3-D integration process was presented during the Smart Systems Integration Conference in Brussels this week by researchers from the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC) in Leuven, Belgium, and its associated laboratory at Ghent University. IMEC is Europe’s largest independent nanoelectronics and nanotechnology research center.
IMECMonitor.jpg
The Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre’s flexible, wireless system monitors the heart and other vital body parameters with an embedded microcontroller chip. (Photo: IMEC)
First the chip was thinned down to 25 µm and embedded in a flexible UTCP. Next, the package was embedded in a standard double-layer flex printed circuit board (PCB) using standard flex PCB production techniques. After the chip is embedded, other components can be mounted above and below it.

IMEC said the integration process uses UTCP interposers that solve the “known good die” issue by enabling easy testing of the packaged thin dies before embedding. Expensive high-density flexible substrates can be avoided by the fan-out UTCP technology that relaxes the interconnection pitch from 100 µm or lower to 300 µm or more, compatible with standard flex substrates.

IMEC demonstrated the integration technology with a prototype flexible wireless monitor that measures the heart rate (electrocardiogram) and muscle activity (electromyogram). The system consists of an embedded ultrathin chip for the microcontroller and analog-to-digital converter, an ultralow-power biopotential amplifier chip and a radio transceiver. By thinning down the chips for UTCP embedding, the technologists made them mechanically flexible, so the complete system is more flexible, making it unobtrusive and comfortable to wear.

For more information, visit: www2.imec.be/imec_com/


GLOSSARY
chip
1. A localized fracture at the end of a cleaved optical fiber or on a glass surface. 2. An integrated circuit.
nanotechnology
The use of atoms, molecules and molecular-scale structures to enhance existing technology and develop new materials and devices. The goal of this technology is to manipulate atomic and molecular particles to create devices that are thousands of times smaller and faster than those of the current microtechnologies.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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