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Tiny printed technology

12 September 2012

Tiny printed technologyTechnology has been shrinking for a long time- remember those mobile phones that were essentially briefcases in the late 80s? Now our mobile phones are so small we have to call them from our landline because they can get lost just about anywhere.

Well now technology has taken the next step into the world of miniature.

Researchers in Korea have developed tiny Near Field Communication (NFC) chips that not only cost one penny to print, but are even smaller than that very coin.

This latest nanotechnology has seen 'rectennas' printed onto plastic foils using electronic inks.

Super cool.

These 'rectennas' are a cross between an antenna and an AC/DC current converter and allow data from a mobile phone to be transmitted when swiped.

The tiny printed chip uses the radio waves emitted from a smartphone to transmit data.

This technology can already be found in smart cards that can be used in a 'tap and go' method of payment but the ability to print this technology for a penny per chip is what everyone is excited about.

Unlike a QR code, this technology allows two way communications and can hold far more data.

The use of QR codes has greatly increased in recent years but with the introduction of augmented reality technology, it probably won't be all that long until those black and which boxes are replaced with far sleeper looking 'scan me' icons.

This technology will allow a far smoother user interaction interface as a smartphone users wouldn't have to download a specific app as the NFC technology would already be inbuilt to their device.

Due to be published in the journal Nanotechnology, published by the Institute of Physics (IoP) this month, this latest printed technology could revolutionise the NFC sector.

Co-author of the study Gyoujin Cho, told the IoP: "What is great about this technique is that we can also print the digital information onto the rectenna, meaning that everything you need for wireless communication is in one place.

"Our advantage over current technology is lower cost, since we can produce a roll-to-roll printing process with high throughput in an environmentally friendly manner.

"Furthermore, we can integrate many extra functions without huge extra cost in the printing process."

So, just watch this space.

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