Heterogeneous Integration Strategy for Obtaining Physically Flexible 3D Compliant Electronic Systems

  • Sohail F. Shaikh

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Electronic devices today are an integral part of human life thanks to state-of-the- art complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. The progress in this area can be attributed to miniaturization driven by Moore’s Law. Further advancements in electronics are under threat from physical limits in dimensional scaling and hence new roadmaps for alternative materials and technologies are chased. Furthermore, the current era of Internet of things (IoT) and Internet of everything (IoE) has broaden the horizon to a plethora of unprecedented applications. The most prominent emerging fields are flexible and stretchable electronics. There has been significant progress in developments of flexible sensors, transistors, and alternative materials, etc. Nonetheless, there remains the unaddressed challenges of matching performance of the status-quo, packaging, interconnects, and lack of pragmatic integration schemes to readily complement existing state-of-the-art technology. In this thesis, a pragmatic heterogeneous integration strategy is presented to obtain high-performance 3D electronic systems using existing CMOS based integrated circuit (IC). Critical challenges addressed during the process are: reliable flexible interconnects, maximum area efficiency, soft-polymeric packaging, and heterogeneous integration compatible with current CMOS technology. First, a modular LEGO approach presents a novel method to obtain flexible electronics in a lock-and-key plug and play manner with reliable interconnects. A process of converting standard rigid IC into flexible LEGO without any performance degradation with a high-yield is shown. For the majority of healthcare and other monitoring applications in IoT, sensory array is used for continuous monitoring and spatiotemporal mapping activities. Here we present ultra-high-density sensory solution (1 million sensors) as an epitome of density and address each of the associated challenges. A generic heterogeneous integration scheme has been presented to obtain physically flexible standalone electronic system using 3D-coin architecture. This 3D-coin architecture hosts sensors on one side, readout circuit and data processing units embedded in the polymer, and the other side is reserved for antenna and energy harvester (photovoltaic). This thin platform (~ 300 μm) has achieved bending radius of 1 mm while maintaining reliable electrical interconnection using through-polymer-via (TPV) and soft-polymeric encapsulation. This coin integration scheme is compatible with existing CMOS technology and suitable for large scale manufacturing. Lastly, a featherlight non-invasive ‘Marine-Skin’ platform to monitor deep-ocean monitoring is presented using the heterogeneous integration scheme. Electrical and mechanical characterization has been done to establish reliability, integrity, robustness, and ruggedness of the processes, sensors, and multisensory flexible system.
Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorMuhammad Mustafa Hussain (Supervisor)


  • Flexible Electronics
  • 3D IC
  • Flexible sensors
  • CMOS
  • Heterogeneous Integration
  • Modular Electronics

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