The “internet of things” concept envisions intelligence and communication built into all kinds of consumer products and during smart manufacturing of these products. Printed electronics offers one low-cost pathway towards this future however new low-cost sensor, memory, computing and communication technologies need to be developed and effectively integrated into a range of manufacturing techniques and consumer products in a scalable, economically sustainable way.
The Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue University is leading a research initiative with two dozen faculty across ten Schools and four Colleges to combine advances in roll-to-roll systems, functional printing and scalable nanomanufacturing to overcome this challenge. Given Purdue’s strengths in Pharmacy, Health and human science, and Food/Agriculture, there is particular interest in focusing efforts on smart thin films towards these sectors.
Advances in these areas could enable revolutionary products such personalized medicine where medication release rate is controlled by specific physiological conditions, food packaging that not only records temperature history of the product and detects spoilage but communicates the information to other detectors, or personal hygiene products that can double as lab tests for common ailments. Similarly, sensor-enabled automation, data analytics and virtual manufacturing can be used to optimize factory operation, increase yield and reduce cost for personalized products.
Purdue already has researchers with relevant expertise in all of the relevant fields. We have a top HP Printing Center specialized in hardware and software needed for quality control (more than $20M investment over last 20 years); leading researchers in nanobio sensors, organic materials, analytic chemistry (#1 rated in US) and a state-of-the-art nanofabrication and characterization facility (Birck Center, ~$90M investment in state-of-the-art nanofabrication characterization).
The goal of the workshop is to bring together Purdue innovators, technology leaders and industry representatives to discuss industry needs in this area as well as technology advances. This workshop will serve as a starting point for the development of a consortium that will allow us develop a long lasting public/private partnership.