NTPE’s novel technology, called Paper-E, prints electronic circuits, sensors and semiconductors onto any cellulose-based paper and is a result of the Group’s formal relationship with Portugal’s NOVA University, NOVA School of Science and Technology (“FCT NOVA”).
The technology replaces the silicon used in electronics with eco-friendly metal oxides and cellulose, to create “inks” that can be used in specially adapted printers and printing technologies, such as ink-jet heads. It has been developed by a research team led by Professors Rodrigo Martins and Elvira Fortunato from FCT Nova. NTPE will develop and commercialise its work.
There are a huge range of industrial applications for the technology, including paper-based diagnostic kits, smart packaging, logistics, and many others.
Because it is possible to store data in the cellulose, there are potential applications in fraud prevention – for example, to replace microchips with electronic pages in passports and other identity documents which need to be tracked.
Non-governmental organisations in low and middle-income countries are keen to explore the technology for use in real time lab-on-paper diagnostic solutions. This is because it does not need a power source and results can be shared via mobile phones. The technology can also produce disposable smart electronic interfaces for near field and Radio-frequency identification, RFID, communications.
The technology has been developed within a research group from the materials department of FCT NOVA, national scientific research centre Cenimat and the Centre of Excellence in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Processes.
They bring together more than 65 researchers dedicated to new approaches in electronic materials and applying them to build novel electronic devices and systems. Cenimat collaborates with companies and research organisations such as Samsung, Merck, ETRI, Flexenable, Osram, LG, Solvay, Eurocat, the Navigator Company, Clara Saúde, INCM, and others.
The research team was shortlisted by the European Patent Office (“EPO”) in the Research category of its Inventor of the Year Awards 2016.
At the time, the then EPO president Benoît Battistelli said: “The paper-based microchips developed by Elvira Fortunato and her team have the potential to bring smart computer technology to entirely new areas of daily life.”
NTPE has been incorporated to develop and commercialise their work.