SPIE Defense + Security 2014
Conference paper

Advanced flexible electronics: Challenges and opportunities

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Thin, lightweight and flexible electronics are being regarded as an important evolutionary step in the development of novel technological products. Interestingly, this trend has emerged in a wide range of industries; from microelectronics to photovoltaics and even solid state lighting. Historically, most attempts to enable flexibility have focused on the introduction of new material systems that, so far, severely compromise the performance compared to state-of-the-art products. The few approaches that do attempt to render contemporary high-performance materials flexible rely on layer transfer techniques that are complicated, expensive and material-specific. In this paper, we review a method of removing surface layers from brittle substrates called Controlled Spalling Technology that allows one to simple peel material or device layers from their host substrate after they have been fabricated. This allows one to fabricate high-performance electronic products in a manner of their choosing, and make them flexible afterwards. This technique is simple, inexpensive and largely independent of substrate material or size. We demonstrate the power and generality of Controlled Spalling by application to a number of disparate applications including high-performance integrated circuits, high-efficiency photovoltaics and GaN-based solid state lighting. © 2014 SPIE.