Microtechnologies and electronics
Key areas in research related to microtechnologies and electronics include the following: components and instruments of optics and photonics, functionality produced using printing technology, applications of microtechnology and electronics in the biosciences, nanotechnology and its applications in electronics, components and modules for radio frequency electronics, micro sensors and manufacturing methods for microtechnology.
The objective of research into microtechnologies and electronics is to produce innovations that significantly improve the competitiveness of industry in various sectors.
Research into optics renews the instrument technology of industry through the adoption of new component and module technologies. Cost-effective performance and miniaturisation lead to new applications. In photonics, the objective is to develop module solutions developed using heterogeneous integration techniques, especially for fast data transfer.
Some of the areas of emphasis in the development of printed functionality include: technologies for active and decorative product packaging, OLED and LED display technologies, printed microfluidistic sensors, printed electronic solar cells, batteries and codes.
The application of microtechnologies in the biosciences is focused in particular on various diagnostics applications. Molecule-selective coatings are a key technology, together with the detection techniques related to them.
In nanotechnology, the use of nanoimprint technology in the manufacturing of electronics and optics is being developed. New applications based on the unique characteristics of graphene are being developed by studying the attachment of graphene sheets to silicon wafers. In addition, applications and manufacturing techniques for superconducting circuits and devices are being developed. The objectives include quantum computing, THz-regime components and special sensors.
In radio frequency electronics, enabling technologies for electrically tunable and reconfigurable subsystems.are being developed. Key objects are ferroelectric thin film condensators that can be adjusted using an electric field, and micromechanical switches. Other important technologies include integrated passive component technologies and BAW (bulk acoustic wave) thin film resonators. In radio frequency modules, the emphasis is especially on short-range communication solutions, such as radio frequency recognition technology (RFID and MMID) that uses millimetre waves. Circuit technology focuses on 60 GHz CMOS circuits.
In micro sensor technology, development focuses in particular on micromechanical sensors and their applications. MEMS (micro electro mechanical systems) is a key technology. Important objects include MEMS-based timer circuits and electronic compasses. Integration technology is being developed for high-volume applications which enable inertial sensors and magnetic field sensors to be combined in sensor clusters. The development of special silicon discs for sensor applications is an important research area.
Key challenges for the future
Research in electronics is changing in many ways. Finnish electronics subcontractors have now transferred a large part of their operations to Asia and other growing markets. There is important expertise in Finland in the sector which is now searching for new areas of growth. The manufacturing electronics industry has significant opportunities in Finland in other sectors of industry besides the manufacturing of mobile phones. The manufacturing of MEMS sensors, for example, is believed to continue to be a strongly growing field that has several areas of application and markets. Rapidly growing segments can be found in many vertically integrated applications, in which new component technologies are used to manufacture new instruments, for example. Growing areas of application for electronics are found in sensors for consumer devices, measuring devices for the process industry, environmental applications, the traffic and transport sector, health care and industry.
The challenge for printed electronics is to move from the laboratory scale to full-scale industrial production. The objective is to create a new sector of business that is intimately related to the expertise of both the electronics industry and the wood refining industry.
The effective transformation of research into business is a key challenge. There is an emphasis on networking and partnerships both in Finland and internationally. In addition, special focus is put on development of start-up companies.