July 14, 2024

Flex Tech

Innovation in Every Curve

Flexible Electronic Circuit Innovations Complement Climate Change Action, Notes GlobalData

Nanometer-thick materials offer flexibility and electronic properties, paving the way for sustainable, cost-effective flexible electronics. This innovation, alongside increased patent filings and strategic investments, is advancing the integration of flexible electronic circuits into renewable energy solutions, significantly boosting the adaptability and resilience of energy systems in the fight against climate change, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Image Credit: Disruptor Intelligence Center – Technology Foresights

Researchers at UC Irvine have recently developed a method to produce ultra-thin bismuth crystals using a process akin to a tortilla press. These crystals, which exhibit important quantum oscillations, hold the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing of affordable, flexible electronics and quantum devices, making cost-effective flexible electronics an everyday reality.

GlobalData’s proprietary technology innovation intelligence tool “Technology Foresights” indicates a consistent increase inI the number of patents associated with flexible electronic circuits over the years, totaling 2,882 between 2015 and 2023. The addition of 13 new companies in 2022 and 11 in 2023 to the patent landscape, demonstrates a growing emphasis on innovation with patents distributed across leading themes such as climate change, emissions reduction, and renewable energy.

Rahul Kumar Singh, Senior Analyst of Disruptive Tech at GlobalData, comments: “Flexible circuits enable new features and functionalities in electronic devices by conforming to the unconventional shapes and integrating with different components. A significant rise in patents related to climate change and emissions reduction highlights how these circuits are being leveraged to create more sustainable technologies. Moreover, innovations in printed circuit manufacturing, which account for more than 40% of flexible electronic circuit patents, are enabling more efficient production processes that reduce waste and energy consumption.”

An analysis of GlobalData’s Disruptor Intelligence Center highlights the recent innovations, notable partnerships, and strategic funding driving the sustainable manufacturing of flexible electronic circuits. For example, in April 2024, US-based ENNOVI introduced a sustainable method for producing flexible circuits in EV battery cell contact systems, aligning with the industry’s sustainability focus.

UK-based Smartkem collaborated with FlexiIC in February 2024 to streamline flexible circuit design and production using open-source EDA tools, enhancing rapid and low-cost production for new applications in sensors and IoT.

In the same month, US-based NextFlex secured $6.49 million in funding for seven projects under Project Call 8.0 to advance sustainability in flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing.

UK-based Pragmatic Semiconductor raised $231 million in Series D funding in December 2023 to expand flexible IC production for smart packaging and wearables, reflecting growing investment in flexible electronic circuits.

Singh concludes: “While the progress in flexible electronic circuits is excellent, challenges associated with scalability persist. Ensuring that these circuits can be produced at scale without compromising quality or increasing costs is crucial. Moreover, integrating flexible circuits into the existing manufacturing processes and ensuring their durability under various conditions is key. However, the continuous rise in patent activity and strategic investments suggest a bright future for flexible electronics.”