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Hybrid lightweight and flexible circuit boards for satellites
Printed electronics is an emerging industry facilitating widespread, cost-effective electronics for applications such as flexible displays, printed photovoltaics, Organic Light Emitting Diodes, etc. Printed electronics uses additive deposition methods similar to conventional press printing such as inkjet printing, screen printing, gravure printing, etc. applying a stack of layers on flexible substrates. By depositing electrically active layers (e.g. conductors, semiconductors and insulators), basic electronic building blocks such as resistors, capacitors, thin film transistors, etc. can be made. On the other hand, FCBs are commonly used where flexibility, space savings, or production constraints limit the use of rigid PCBs. Typically, conventional photolithography and standard SMD integration are combined to realize FCBs. An innovative electronic system assembly approach, i.e. hybrid integration combining printed electronic components with/on Flexible Circuit Boards (FCBs) equipped with conventional Surface-Mounted components (SMDs) was implemented in order to realize a sun sensor. The developed sun sensor comprises inkjet printed organic photodiodes (OPDs), printed resistors, printed capacitors, high-end SMDs and operational amplifiers on a FCB. The gain is in extremely thin sun sensor (thickness of the embedded SMD, i.e. < 2mm), extremely light weight (< 2g), low power (power supply and/- 5V), cost-effective (projected cost significantly lower than current solution), etc. Technology-wise, a clear benefit was achieved from the combination of the advantages of both large area printed electronics based on printing processes (e.g. flexibility, light weight, cost effectiveness, etc.) and SMDs with high-end functionalities and robustness.

Authors: N. Marjanovic, J. Disser, F. Zanella, J. Schleuniger, A. Mustaccio, R. Ferrini, et al.

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