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Flexible Electronics: Independent Innovation Leads the Future of Important Strategic Industries

With the development of modern science and technology, in the fields of information, new materials, new energy, and especially the direction of cross-integration, a number of subversive technologies with significant influences that can change the technological, economic, and social patterns are emerging. A country has won a competitive advantage in a new round of industrial transformation. Chinese scientists should focus on cutting-edge exploration in the fields of information, life, materials and material sciences, and strive to achieve breakthroughs in more strategic basic sciences and subversive innovation in key core technology areas. In this issue, Huang Wei, president of the Asia-Pacific Engineering Organization Federation and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was introduced to introduce disruptive technology “flexible electronics”.

Flexible electronics is a subversive science and technology based on the cross-integration of disciplines. It can break through the intrinsic limitations of classical silicon-based electronics and provide innovation for device design integration, energy revolution, medical technology transformation, etc. in the post-Moore era. Leading is an important strategic opportunity for China's independent innovation to lead the development of the future industry.

The urging is just soft, open-minded: flexibility comes from materials

The superior performance of flexible electronics is first and foremost the ultimate pursuit of the properties of organic or inorganic electronic components. The "flexible" design of the core components is the key to the fabrication of flexible electronic devices. Currently implemented mainly through two strategies:

First, functional organic molecules and polymer materials using intrinsic flexibility are used as flexible electronic device building units. For example, organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) constructed on plastic (polymer) substrates have been widely used in bendable, curlable, thin display screens such as curved televisions, foldable mobile phones, and the like. Organic semiconductor materials and polymer materials can be used as electronic pastes for printed electronics technology, enabling high-volume, low-cost, high-efficiency flexible electronic device processing and integration. The processing and manufacturing of flexible electronic devices in the future is as easy as printing a document.

Second, the flexibility of the rigid inorganic material is achieved by the microstructure design of the material. For example, when the size of the material is reduced to the micro-nano scale, the hard material itself will exhibit bendable pliability due to the micro-nano effect of the material. It's like a piece of paper is easier to bend than a book, and a spring is more flexible than a wire. Based on this strategy, in recent years, scientists have designed and manufactured "S-type" metal microcircuits and embedded them into ultra-thin silica materials to form flexible stretchable integrated circuits.

As the thickness of the material is reduced to the nanometer scale, the electrical and mechanical properties of the material will change. Theoretical studies and experimental studies have shown that two-dimensional materials with atomic thickness have broad application prospects in the field of flexible electronics. For example, graphene has been proven to be applied as a transparent conductive film to a flexible transparent touch screen.

The atomic-thickness chalcogenide compounds have excellent flexibility and controllable electrical transport properties, making these materials a key component of flexible electronic components, making the mineralization and miniaturization of high-performance flexible electrons may.

Rigid and soft, come to the fore: material determines the device

Flexible electronic devices are one of the main forms of flexible electronics. Based on flexible materials, combined with micro-nano processing and integration technology, design and manufacture a new generation of flexible electronic components that can realize logic amplification, filtering, data storage, signal inversion, digital computing, sensing, etc., which is the development of information technology. Urgent needs. Flexible physical materials have unique physical and chemical properties such as light, electricity, magnetism, heat, force, etc., making flexible electronic devices widely used in intelligent electronic systems such as flexible display, data encryption, and wearable sensing.

The Institute of Flexible Electronics of Northwestern Polytechnical University, the Institute of Advanced Materials of Nanjing University of Technology and Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications have long-term working foundation in the field of organic electronics research. The theory of organic semiconductor pn band regulation is proposed, and the dynamic self-regulating intelligent organic photoelectric material is realized. Design, fabrication and device application; developed high-performance blue organic semiconductor devices, in which the efficiency of undoped blue organic semiconductor devices reached the international advanced level; the design and processing of multiple sets of organic semiconductor device preparation and evaluation systems were completed. The OLED process pilot line of 180 mm substrate; developed the first domestic organic semiconductor inkjet printing system, the first inkjet printing of water-soluble organic semiconductor film, making it possible to prepare organic semiconductor thin films in large quantities; A new strategy to develop micro-nano processing technology on flexible substrates, developed a series of new high-sensitivity flexible health sensors; designed a variety of effective strategies to achieve water-soluble organic semiconductor sensing materials, developed a variety of Target analyte Sensitive detection of water-soluble organic semiconductor materials, the construction of a phosphorescent bioprobe with detection and imaging functions for a variety of important analytes and a high-specificity "quantum dot-biomolecule" composite probe for disease mechanism research and Disease diagnosis provides new analytical methods and imaging techniques; developed the world's first metal-free, heavy element-free pure organic semiconductor long afterglow materials, and developed new applications of organic optoelectronic materials in data encryption and information security; The bulk heterojunction polymer semiconductor memory technology successfully realizes bistable regulation by utilizing its dynamic characteristics and steric hindrance functionalization, opening up a new field of memory research.

The above research results provide important theoretical guidance for the design and manufacture of intelligent flexible electronic devices. Although we have achieved a series of results in the field of flexible electronics, we still face many problems and challenges. Through the design synthesis and physical properties of new flexible functional materials, processing and integration of high-performance flexible electronic devices, the physical mechanism of flexible electronics is further recognized, which plays an important supporting role in the theoretical improvement of flexible electronics and the rapid development of the flexible electronics industry. At the same time, it is also conducive to promoting China's transformation and upgrading in the field of electronic information industry.

Soft wins the wind, rides the wind and waves: the device spans the application

Currently, the electronic information industry is still dominated by rigid devices and systems. After nearly a hundred years of technology accumulation, rigid devices have mature processing equipment, high operating speed, high accuracy, high stability and so on. However, the limitations of classical silicon-based electronics are increasingly influenced by Moore's Law. The birth of flexible electronics has provided a new direction for the development of classical electronics, triggering the emergence of new forms of electronic devices, and will revolutionize people's daily lives. Such as foldable, curlable, flexible displays will change the presentation of existing pictures and movies, making the form of consumer electronics such as mobile phones and televisions more novel and light.

The flexible electronic skin can integrate a variety of flexible sensors to optimize the flexible device and the biological central nervous system interface, help the prosthetic to achieve the sensing function, and give the robot an intelligent bionic tactile function with or even beyond the human skin. The flexible health sensor can be attached to the human body for continuous detection of health parameters such as body temperature, heart rate, electrocardiogram, brain waves, blood pressure, sweat and blood components, and intelligent analysis and archiving of relevant data to achieve assessment of human health status. Remote diagnosis with disease. Flexible health monitoring system continuously monitors human health status anytime, anywhere.

Flexible electronics have thinness, low energy consumption, good biocompatibility and controllable mechanical properties. The characteristics of the health monitoring system can be attached to human skin for a long time without affecting people's daily activities. The smart wearable device can wirelessly connect the application software and the network, realize the combination of remote office and leisure, and realize the idea control technology such as physiological electric monitoring. Implantable flexible electronic devices provide new treatments for the treatment of complex diseases such as Parkinson's, epilepsy, and depression.

In recent years, the development of artificial intelligence technology has promoted the precision, intelligence and efficiency of speech recognition, mechanical control and economic policy decisions. Flexible electronics is the basic support of artificial intelligence, and will lead and expand the application of artificial intelligence technology in more fields. The flexible artificial nerve morphological chip can simulate the human brain for learning and high-speed computing in real time, so as to meet the hardware requirements of artificial intelligence technology for cloud processing and other powerful processing algorithms. The intelligent nature of flexible electronics makes it an irreplaceable role in future information technology.

Take the soft, just win a thousand miles: the application defines the future

Laozi’s Tao Te Ching said: “The world is weaker than water, and the strong and powerful are unable to win.” In the face of Western countries’ blockade and containment of China’s technology, subversive technological innovation is an important way out. On the basis of the combination of carbon-based materials and photoelectric processes, we should foster a flexible electronic giant industry led by the optoelectronics industry, and break through the long-held development of microelectronics industry leading industries based on the combination of silicon-based materials and electronic processes. The pattern leads the development of a strategic, dominant and pillared flexible electronics industry with ultra-high value-added features, creating a new era of flexible electronic definition.

With flexible electronics as the core, we will focus on the development of “Fatish Technology” (FAMISHED), namely eight key core technologies and strategic technologies such as flexible electronics, artificial intelligence, materials science, pan-intermediary, space science, health science, energy science and data science. Emerging industries are an important strategic opportunity for China to overtake the road in the frontier of disruptive technological innovation.

In the field of defense technology innovation and aerospace, the intelligence and integration of weapons and equipment has become the current development trend. Flexible electronics can integrate cutting-edge technologies such as smart materials, sensors, information transmission and processing, enhance the intelligence level of related equipment and systems, promote the development of aerospace, and serve the modernization of national defense. In-depth research in the field of flexible electronics is a new engine that drives China's comprehensive innovation and development.

Flexible electronics is one of the important ways to practice the strategy of “powering the country”. The multidisciplinary cross-cutting of flexible electronics will break the barriers between traditional disciplines and promote the construction and development of emerging frontier interdisciplines with innovative talent introduction and training methods. Taking flexible electronics as an opportunity, we will implement the construction of innovative systems, condense the wisdom and strength of Chinese children at home and abroad, and inspire talents of various innovative groups to lead the demonstration role, tap the vitality and potential of talent innovation, and make new contributions to building a community of human destiny.

The author believes that in the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, flexible electronics is an important strategic opportunity for China's independent innovation to lead the future. We should grasp the development of flexible electronics industry, base on forward-looking basic research, consolidate and raise major scientific issues, seek major theoretical breakthroughs, master core key technologies, produce leading original results, and improve the original innovation and independent innovation capabilities of related disciplines in China. .
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