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In 2008 the CENIMAT/I3N and UNINOVA/CEMOP, under the coordination of professors R. Martins and E. Fortunato, demonstrated the possibility to produce electronic devices where paper could be, besides the substrate, an active component, combined with the use of oxide semiconductors, away from traditional silicon. At that time the discovery was deeply disseminated by mass media worldwide and even today you can find hundreds of thousands of followers of this concept (Google E. Fortunato or paper transistor).

 

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Apart from that, the scientific promoters and stakeholders did receive the news as a vision of how future could change, especially for all technology related to low cost disposable and full recyclable goods. This recognition led the group to get several awards, from which we would like to highlight the USA IdTech R&D 2009 award attributed to the paper transistor[1]  (S. Jose, California) and the Korean Information Display Society (KIDS) 2010 (Daegu, South Korea) award, attributed to the paper memory[2].

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1º prémio IDTech R&D 2009        1º prémio KIDS 2010
(S. José Califórnia, EUA)             (Seoul, Coreia do Sul)

Since then the team has been focused on how to produce the key basic electronics units in paper[3], such as CMOS[4] , the key unit to produce logic circuits[5] . Moreover, the team started getting several followers worldwide and started exploiting the paper electronics[6]  (not the e-paper, but a real paper electronics!). Meanwhile the group started going deeply in the scientific understanding on how the paper composition, fibres’ nature and size and mineral contains could influence the performances of the devices built with them[7] , including the fabrication of devices on transparent paper[8].

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Front cover page of Nanotechnology and image of transparent paper used to produce TFT

 

In march 2015 as a result of joint work within A3Ple (Autonomous Printed Paper Products for Labels & Electronics) project, coordinated by Centre Technique do Papier (CTP), in France and to which the Portuguese team coordinated by R. Martins, L. Pereira and E. Fortunato, belong together with other partners such as CEA, a paper intelligent sensing display label was fabricated, using these concepts. This demo was awarded by the Organic and Printed Electronics – Association), during the LOPEC - Large-area, Organic & Printed Electronics Convention 2015, held in Munich.

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Electrónica integrada em papel, Prémio LOPEC 2015, Munique, alemanha

We have to realise that LOPEC is responsible by organising one of the main conference and exhibition event worldwide, in the area of printing organic electronics, where the last developments and technologies in the field are presented. Thus, that is a good place to promote new partnerships and business plans.

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1st worldwide inorganic solar cells on paper, 2015. Sensor developed for detection of electrochemically active bacteria

Besides that, the Portuguese group has been involved in creating new devices aiming to establish full autonomous paper platforms for a plethora of applications. For that the key element are solar cells that by first time the group develop on paper[9,10]. The Portuguese team did also research towards paper based diagnostic platforms[11,12,13], whose main goal is in turning them dynamic, involving all required electronics to turn them full mobile, intelligent (able to store information and to communicate it wireless) and energy autonomous. This will be a giant step towards diagnostics for all, once the costs are real low and they are very easy to recycle, completely different when such platforms are made on silicon. In paper, you just burn it!

New areas where a real strong market is foreseen concerns the area of smart packaging for the food and pharmaceutical industry, where they can interact with consumers and are able to supply to a central data bank all information concerning expiring data, state of the goods, etc., and so contribute for saves on food wasting! The size of this market is well above 110 B€ and will improve drastically the life quality of all!
Today we are assisting to the renaissance or the a new era of the paper industry, to be looked not only the ink support or to wrapped up products, but a truly electronic product to improve our comfort, for a better life!

Finally, I would like to stress that this has been recognised, not only concerning the creativity involved (L. Pereira got a start ERC grant in 2015 on cellulose composites for paper electronics (New_Fun) but the European Commission also recognises its potential to contribute to Knowledge-based nanotechnologies and advanced materials for industrial value chains, in the area of Circular economy for the EU industry of 2020! A4M and EuMat contribute also deeply for this recognition, once all they sustained the relevancy and importance of this area to close the loop of the industry of the future, where sustainability and the re-use of things must be present in our agenda!

 

[1]E. Fortunato et al., "High-performance flexible hybrid field-effect transistors based on cellulose fiber paper," Ieee Electron Device Letters, vol. 29, pp. 988-990, Sep 2008.
[2] R. Martins, et  al, "Write-erase and read paper memory transistor," Applied Physics Letters, vol. 93, Nov 2008.
[3] R. Martins, et al. SID 2014Frontline Technology: The Future Is Paper Based, p20-24.
[4]R. Martins et al, Adv. Mat., Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor Technology With and On Paper”. 2011, 23, 4491-4496
[5]R. Martins et al., Adv. Funct. Mater., Flexible, Low-Power Oxide Electronics 23 (2013) 2153–2161
[6]see for instance Der-Hsien Lien et al. All printed paper memory, ACS Nano, http://pubs.acs.or, on July 14th 2014.
[7]L. Pereira, el al. The influence of fibril composition and dimension on the performance of paper gated oxide transistors Nanotechnology, Vol (9), 094007,  MAR 7 2014.
[8] D Gaspare tal.  Nanocrystalline cellulose applied simultaneously as the gate dielectric and the substrate in flexible field effect transistors, Nanotechnology 25 (2014) art nº 094008 (11pp).
[9]  H. Águas et al. Thin film silicon photovoltaic cells on paper for flexible indoor applications , Advanced Functional M aterials, 2015, dx.doi.org/10.1002/adfm.201500636.
[10] A. Vicente, et. Al.  Martins, Solar Cells for Self-Sustainable intelligent Packaging, J. Materials Chemistry A, 2015, DOI 10. 1039/C5TA01752A.
[11] M N Costa, et al., A low cost, safe, disposable, rapid and self-sustainable paper-based platform for diagnostic testing: lab-on-paper, Nanotechnology 25 (2014).
[12] A. C. Marques, et al., Office Paper Platform for Bioelectrochromic Detection of Electrochemically Active Bacteria using Tungsten Trioxide Nanoprobes, Scientific Reports, (2015), DOI: 10.1038/srep09910.
[13] 72) B. Veigas, et al., Gold on paper-paper platform for Au-nanoprobe TB detection, Lab On Chip, 12 (22) (2012), pp. 4802-4808.