Creating virtually any 3D shape out of Integrated Circuits (IC) technology, using highly flexible and ultrathin electrical connections? If you think this is impossible, you haven’t experienced the Flex-to-rigid (F2R) platform yet.
Flex-to-rigid (F2R) is a high-precision micro-assembly platform, that includes flexible polymer interconnects with embedded electrical tracks. This way, virtually every 3D shape can be constructed out of IC technology in extremely small form factors; from boxes to tubes – you name it.
It is like micro-assembly origami.
F2R has been developed by the Philips MEMS Foundry to bring complex electronic imaging functionality to the tip of smart catheters and guide wires. It is, however, just as fit for many other applications that make use of multiple electronic components.
How it works
The F2R platform starts with common silicon processing on wafer level. Tiny silicon islands of arbitrary shape, with functional elements, are connected by extremely thin and flexible electrical polymer interconnects, that are able to bend. These interconnects are created during the wafer processing stage. F2R replaces several assembly steps, and their corresponding costs and risks.
The extreme flexibility and micron-size precision lets F2R take over, where standard flex foil technology comes to an end.
Opening up opportunities to miniaturize 3D shapes
F2R offers a solution for many miniaturization challenges. It allows for high-density wiring, since flexible interconnects are a factor 5 to 10 thinner than the thinnest flex that can be achieved with the existing fine flex interconnects.
F2R allows for a creative use of available wafer space. Instead of making only flat rigid chips out of wafer, you can think of all types of 3D shapes, make even smaller silicon islands, enable smaller catheters with more and better functionality. Even complex micro-fabricated devices such as electronic pills, which require the integration of multiple sensors, can leverage F2R technology.
Application areas of Flex-to-rigid
F2R is the best solution for in/on body devices. Thus, this platform offers an answer when both miniaturization and preserving the functionality and performance of the device are crucial. F2R can be applied in many interconnect challenges, in which integration is required in a very small form, like a folded or even rolled shape.
In CMUT transducers, sensors and integrated passives can be integrated onto the silicon islands without the need for further assembly.
Many BioMEMS applications require geometry, especially fluidical-electrical applications. F2R offers opportunities to do so.
In photonics, F2R has the potential to solve micro-assembly or complex geometrical challenges of the optical systems.
Our experts have contributed to several scientific research papers on F2R:
Benjamin Mimoun, Vincent Henneken, Arjen van der Horst, and Ronald Dekker, “Flex-to-Rigid (F2R): A Generic Platform for the Fabrication and Assembly of Flexible Sensors for Minimally Invasive Instruments”, IEEE Sensors Journal, vol. 13, no. 10, October 2013.
Jian Li, Jeroen Naaborg, Marcus Louwerse, Vincent Henneken, Carlo Eugeni, Ronald Dekker, Embedded High-Density Trench Capacitors for Smart Catheters, 2020 IEEE 8th Electronics System-Integration Technology Conference (ESTC).
MEMS Foundry and Micro Devices Facility working as one-stop shop
We offer both MEMS foundry and Micro devices assembly as a one-stop shop, which allows our partners to have one point of contact for efficient communication and project handling. It is pretty unique that the two entities can collaborate together, within 5km distance in Eindhoven. MEMS component & micro assembly can really be optimized for each other at Philips Engineering Solutions.
Philips Engineering Solutions operates a state-of-the-art 2650 m2 pure-play MEMS Foundry on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. This MEMS Foundry is specialized in low to medium volume custom MEMS manufacturing. When off-the-shelf components do not meet your requirements, and you consider having a custom MEMS device especially made for you, you come to us.
At the Micro Devices Facility The Greenhouse located at Strijp in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, we have over 40 years of experience. We deliver key microsystem modules, integrated into devices, for the medical & high-tech markets. Our customers typically require a complex combination of technologies to obtain new advanced functions at small scales.
Talk to us
The complexity of F2R is readily adapted to the requirements of the application. Are you interested to learn what can you achieve with these in-wafer flexible connections? Do you need to miniaturize your application, improve your configuration, or save wafer space?
Get in touch with us and we’re happy to discuss how F2R could help to develop new solutions and innovations.