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IUPUI to collaborate with Purdue, state as part of $171 million FlexTech manufacturing initiative

Researchers to co-lead $13 million Indiana node of Department of Defense project to develop electronics, sensors that flex and stretch

This article originally appeared in the IUPUI newsroom:

INDIANAPOLIS --Researchers from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Purdue University have been selected to co-lead a $13 million Indiana node of a U.S. Department of Defense-funded initiative to develop electronics and sensors that flex and stretch.

Flexible hybrid electronics enable the integration of thin silicon electronic devices, sensors, communications and power on flexible substrates like glass, plastic, paper and human skin. Thinner wristwatches, personalized prosthetics, and more reliable robots and visual displays are among possible applications of the technology.

The defense department announced Aug. 28 that it had selected a proposal by FlexTech to establish and manage a flexible hybird electronics manufacturing initiative. It is part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program, an initiative of the Obama Administration to support advanced manufacturing in the U.S.

A research consortium and trade association based in San Jose, Calif., FlexTech is partnering with IUPUI, Purdue, the state of Indiana and other organizations. Overall funding amounts to $171 million: $75 million from federal sources over five years matched by more than $96 million in cost sharing from non-federal partners.

"There will truly be revolutionary developments associated with these technologies," said David Russomanno, dean of the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI. "IUPUI is in a unique position to take advantage of a strong history of working with industry and not-for-profit partners, our collaborative relationship with Purdue University and being part of the Indiana University research community, which brings a strong life sciences perspective."

As a leading research institution, IUPUI is pleased to be part of a consortium of the 'best of the best' scientists, engineers, and others in the field of flexible hybrid electronics, said IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar. "By developing the building blocks of the next generation of electronics devices, this work will help ensure that America continues to lead in the new frontiers of manufacturing, increasing opportunities for well-paying jobs and a strong economy."

With 15 researchers from schools at the IUPUI campus, the Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute will focus on improving the development and manufacturing of flexible hybrid electronics components and systems by leveraging its expertise in nanotech materials, batteries, and sensors and integration of flexible systems using scalable manufacturing processes. Among them, assistant professor of mechanical engineering Jong Ryu will contribute the formulation of nanoinks for printable circuits and his expertise in photo-thermal material process. Researchers have been working closely with industry partners to test new nanotechnology applications from diabetes monitoring to creating smart knee and hip replacements. IUPUI’s strong partnership with Battery Innovation Center will support the key role of batteries in these technologies. In addition to medical and defense needs, the planned research will yield benefits for automobiles, aviation, communications, consumer electronics, and agriculture.

"The technology development that will be realized from flexible hybrid electronics fits well with IUPUI’s strategic research plan focused on urban health and wellbeing," said Mangilal Agarwal, who directs the Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute and will lead the IUPUI FlexTech team. "That strategy envisions numerous areas where flexible hybrid electronics will be applicable, like implantable and wearable smart sensors that can assist in improving daily lives by continuously monitoring human functions to administer life-saving treatments."

As the nation's leader in manufacturing and a life sciences industry that's grown by $27 billion in just over a decade, Indiana is the ideal place to develop these next generation, advanced flexible electronics manufacturing technologies, said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith. "These types of collaborative initiatives between the state, private industry and Indiana's top research universities are key to driving our economy forward."

Caption for photo: IUPUI's FlexTech team: Left to right - Mangilal Agarwal, directs the Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute and is Associate Director of Research Development at the Office of Vice Chancellor for Research, Jong Ryu, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Technology and Research Member of Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute, Razi Nalim, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Dean for Research in the School of Engineering and Technology, and Clayton Nicolas, Industry Research Development Specialist, School Of Engineering and Technology and Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.