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The Promise of Flexible Electronics

Pages: pp. 4

Abstract—This special issue introduces Design & Test readers to flexible electronics on plastic substrates, which hold much promise for the next generation of low-cost and portable electronic systems. Additional articles address latch design, thermal stressing, and innovations in testing.

Keywords—design and test, flexible electronics



ICs and systems are no longer limited to servers, personal computers, or laptops. Instead, there is increasing demand and a growing market for embedded and ubiquitous systems such as displays, consumer electronics, smart sensors, and RFID tags. Flexible electronics on plastic substrates promises to pave the way for the next generation of low-cost and portable electronic systems that can benefit from inexpensive manufacturing methods such as ink-jet printing and roll-to-roll imprinting. These devices can withstand a significant amount of mechanical stress, thereby allowing us to design electronic systems that can be folded or bent into smaller form factors, hence the term "flexible." Perhaps consumer electronics of the future will be like newspapers that we can fold and store in our pockets!

This special issue introduces D&T readers to some of the most important recent advances in design and test of flexible electronic systems, and their potential applications. The special issue describes current practices as well future research directions. I thank Guest Editors Jiun-Lang Huang and Kwang-Ting (Tim) Cheng for doing an admirable job in soliciting papers and putting together this special issue and bringing this fascinating area to the D&T readership; I also thank the authors for their contributions, and the reviewers for their diligence, and adherence to a tight review schedule, and commitment to D&T.

Five other articles in this issue present topics ranging from latch design to thermal stressing and innovations in testing. In his tutorial article "Adaptive Testing: Dealing with Process Variability," Peter Maxwell describes how adaptive testing can be exploited to accurately screen defective parts under high process variations that are a reality in today's nanoscale technologies. This article is based on the popular tutorial presentation that Peter delivered at the European Test Symposium in May 2010. I thank Tutorials Department Editor Dimitris Gizopoulos for soliciting this article. In "Pulsed-Latch Circuits: A New Dimension in ASIC Design," Youngsoo Shin and Seungwhun Paik present methods for tools for designing pulse-latch circuits, which combine the benefits of latches and flip-flops. In "Long-Term Thermal Overstressing of Computers," Kirk A. Gray and Michael Pecht analyze the impact of subjecting computers to high steady-state temperatures and thermal cycling. They show that currently used handbooks on reliability prediction of electronic systems are inaccurate for predicting field failures, and that manufacturing cost can be reduced by not subscribing to such traditional prediction techniques.

The final two articles in this issue are on testing. In "Replacing Error Vector Magnitude Test with RF and Analog BISTs," Dallas L. Webster, Rick Hudgens, and Donald Y.C. Lie show that RF and analog built-in self-test (BIST) can be used in volume production to replace expensive EVM test methods. In "RF Front-End Test Using Built-in Sensors," Louay Abdallah et al. describe various sensors that can be used for BIST of RF devices.

This issue marks the end of 2011 for IEEE D&T. It has been a great year for the magazine with six exciting issues, a large number of high-quality paper submissions, and a rich set of themes already lined up for 2012. I look forward to serving you as EIC in 2012 with six more captivating issues of our favorite design and test magazine.

Krishnendu Chakrabarty

Editor in Chief

IEEE Design & Test



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