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Electronics in Textiles The Next Stage in Man Machine Interaction

W. Weber, R. Glaser, S. Jung, C. Lauterbach, G. Stromberg, and T. Sturm Infineon Technologies AG, Corporate Research, Laboratory for Emerging Technologies

Abstract Heading for a largely improved interface between individuals and electronics this paper presents enabling technologies for the integration of electronics into textile fabrics. For the realization of ‘wearable electronics’ we discuss a packaging and interconnect technology, a silicon-based micro-machined thermoelectric generator chip for energy harvesting from body heat, and an interwoven antenna concept for textile RF ID labels. Furthermore, a self-organizing network of electronic units for large area textiles is presented.

1. Introduction

Today, the interaction of human individuals with electronic devices demands specific user skills. In future, improved user interfaces can largely alleviate this problem and push the exploitation of microelectronics considerably [1]. In this context the concept of smart clothes promises greater user-friendliness, user- empowerment, and more efficient services support. Wearable electronics responds to the acting individual in a more or less invisible way. It serves individual needs and thus makes life much easier. We believe that today, the cost level of important microelectronic functions is sufficiently low and enabling key technologies are mature enough to exploit this vision to the benefit of society. In the following, we present various technology components to enable the integration of electronics into textiles. Key elements are a packaging and interconnect technology for deep textile integration of electronics discussed in Section 2, a silicon-based micro- machined thermoelectric generator chip for energy harvesting from body heat

presented in Section 3, an interwoven antenna concept for RFID labels for the identification of textiles described in Section 4 and a self-organizing network of electronic controllers for wall and floor textiles discussed in Section 5.

2.

Technology

An interconnect and packaging technology is demonstrated using a polyester narrow fabric with several warp threads replaced by copper wires which are coated with silver and polyester. Six of those parallel conductive warp threads form one lead. For the electrical connections the coating of the wires and the surrounding textile material is removed by laser treatment forming holes as shown in Fig. 1, middle. A thin flexible printed circuit board (PCB) is then attached to the polyester fabric before the holes in the fabric are soldered. Then the module is encapsulated for mechanical protection. The complete unit is molded forming a hermetically sealed casing that protects it against mechanical and chemical stress caused by wearing and cleaning the textile [2] (Fig. 1,

Interconnect

and

Packaging

bottom). As a demonstrator, a speech- controlled MP3 player system is realized which is based on a DSP/µC-two- processor system [3]. The demonstrator system architecture shown in Fig. 2 is composed of four units, all connected via the conductive textiles: the audio module which is a miniaturized PCB containing the audio chip with several auxiliary elements, a detachable module containing a rechargeable Li-ion battery and a MultiMediaCard for data storage, an earphone and microphone module, and a capacitive keyboard module. The user can control the music player either by speaker-independent voice recognition or by means of the keypad. When integrating the proposed system into clothing, special care is necessary for the textile design. The materials are chosen according to maximum wear comfort and environmental compliance. E.g., the audio module has been fully covered by garment, so that the wearer still feels a textile touch. The

so that the wearer still feels a textile touch. The demonstrator system has been designed into

demonstrator system has been designed into the jacket shown in Fig. 3.

3. Thermogenerator for Harvesting Electric Power from Body Heat

Numerous wearable devices such as small remote wireless sensor units for medical applications dissipate only a small amount of power. The human body produces several 10 W of heat energy. Miniaturized thermoelectric generators can harness part of this energy and convert it into electrical power. These generators are built of a large number of thermocouples that are electrically connected in series and arranged in meanders to make best use of a given area. They consist of bars of different materials joined at one end. Due to the thermoelectric Seebeck effect, a temperature difference between both ends generates a voltage and an electrical current through a connected load.

Fig. 1: Textile integration of electronic circuitry using a small printed circuit board that contains the electronic function (top). A polyester fabric is used with warp threads locally replaced by electrically isolated copper wires. The contact areas in the fabric are prepared by laser treatment (middle). For contacting a flexible printed circuit board is used. Finally the structure is encapsulated by a molding process (bottom).

stereo earphones battery + voltage - regulators 2 2 2 I2S HiFi audio DAC I2C
stereo
earphones
battery
+
voltage
-
regulators
2
2
2
I2S
HiFi
audio
DAC
I2C
chip
SPI
2
5
program
GPIO
programming
EEPROM
RS232
MMC
tool
microphone

Multimediacard GPIO programming EEPROM RS232 MMC tool microphone keypad Fig. 2: Schematic overview of the system

EEPROM RS232 MMC tool microphone Multimediacard keypad Fig. 2: Schematic overview of the system

keypad

Fig. 2: Schematic overview of the system demonstrator. The core of the speech-controlled MP3 player is the audio chip described in [3].

Most available thermogenerators are realized using compound semiconductors such as bismuth telluride. However, those are expensive, difficult to produce, not compatible with standard silicon chip fabrication processes and non- disposable. They will thus not be the optimal choice for low cost applications such as wearables. In line with these arguments silicon appears to be a better choice. Fig. 4(a) shows a technological cross-section revealing the micromachining technology [4]. Recently, we have realized a chip with 16.000 thermocouples on a silicon chip measuring 7.0 mm 2 . Fig. 4(b) shows the output power measured as a function of the temperature difference between both sides of the chip. A quadratic dependence of the output power versus the temperature difference T occurs. In order to gain a large difference between body and ambient temperature a

a large difference between body and ambient temperature a Fig. 3: The speech-controlled MP3-player demonstrator system

Fig. 3: The speech-controlled MP3-player demonstrator system designed into a sports jacket.

generator is integrated directly into the fabric of the clothes with good thermal contact to the skin. It has been found that

an effective T of

achieved [5]. For this value an output power of 1.6 µW/cm 2 is obtained which is sufficient to power devices like a wrist watch.

be

up

to

5K can

a

Transponder System in Textile Fabric

Today, radio frequency identification tags (RF ID Tags) are among the smallest and least expensive electronic systems. They consist of a tiny (typically 1 mm 2 ) silicon chip embedded into an inlay with a planar antenna structure. The two antenna contacts are connected to the respective contacts on the chip. Total cost is below 1 €. Neither external leads nor a battery are necessary. Both power supply and I/O are performed by the antenna (Fig.

4. Interwoven

Antenna

for

(a)

poly-Si oxide cavity Si substrate oxide aluminum aluminum n-poly p-poly locos locos oxide p-poly 1
poly-Si
oxide
cavity
Si substrate
oxide
aluminum
aluminum
n-poly
p-poly
locos
locos oxide p-poly
1 cavity µm oxide
cavity
Silicon
(not to substrate
scale) n-poly
z
y
x
14 12 10 8 6 µ-TEG 4 2 0 0 2 4 6 8 10
14
12
10
8
6
µ-TEG
4
2
0
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
output power per area [µW/cm 2 ]

(b) temperature difference over assembly [K]

Fig. 4: Cross-section of a silicon-based micro-machined thermoelectric generator chip (a). The vertical heat flow generates a voltage within the junctions of n- and p-polysilicon. In (b) the measured output power is depicted of the thermoelectric generator as a function of the temperature difference. At a temperature difference of 5K, the demonstrator chip generates approximately 1.6µW/cm².

5a). Those functions are performed by a reader device that emits electromagnetic waves at a specific frequency received and modulated by the tag. RF ID tags are self-contained systems allowing a hermetically sealed package. This fact facilitates their integration into fabrics subject to harsh cleaning procedures.

For integration of RF ID tags into textile fabrics the concept of a transponder system with a woven antenna coil structure is proposed [2]. Applications include the item management in laundries or in logistics supply chains, the protection of branded goods and security applications such as access controls. Due to the self-contained nature of RF ID tags they have excellent properties in withstanding elevated temperatures, pressures, chemicals, and mechanic stress. Existing RF ID antenna structures are not suited for the rough environment

in textile applications. A conducting spiral can be realized by connecting orthogonally oriented conductive warp and weft threads in a fabric according to Fig. 5b. By this means, the antenna structure is fully embedded into the fabric in an unobtrusive and robust way. The chip can be mounted by one of the integration methods described earlier (Fig. 1).

5 Fault-tolerant Integration of Microelectronics in Smart Textiles

In the following, we present the concept of technical textiles containing active microsystems spatially distributed over the fabric [6]. The variety of applications for such a system is huge: pressure sensors and display units in floor cloths for surveillance or guidance systems in public buildings, intelligent sheets for

(a)

(a) (b) group of conductive threads contact RFID Chip laser hole Fig. 5 (a) Photograph of

(b)

(a) (b) group of conductive threads contact RFID Chip laser hole Fig. 5 (a) Photograph of
(a) (b) group of conductive threads contact RFID Chip laser hole Fig. 5 (a) Photograph of

group of

conductive

threads

contact

RFID Chip laser hole
RFID
Chip
laser
hole

Fig. 5 (a) Photograph of a modern RF ID product with a printed antenna on plastic substrate connected to a small silicon chip. The complete structure is sealed by a second plastic layer to prevent corrosion and mechanical defects. (b) Concept of a woven antenna structure for a textile transponder system. Conductive warp and weft threads are connected to realize a spiral.

monitoring vital signals of patients in

hospitals, defect detection for condition monitoring in textile concrete constructions, and many more. Each of these applications poses high technical requirements regarding functionality, reliability, and ease and cost-efficiency

of manufacturing.

The idea was realized by

microelectronics integration in a coarsely meshed fabric. This fabric could be a basic or intermediate layer of floor or wall covering or any kind of technical textile. Figure 6a shows a schematic of an embedded network of processing elements in a textile fabric. In Figure 6b

a photograph of the concept study of a

smart carpet is depicted. Red and blue threads indicate the supply wires, the green threads mark data lines. A small microelectronics module is connected at the cross-over points of the wires. In this way, each module is connected at each of its four sides to the supply and data lines. After encapsulation, a smart fabric is realized featuring a regular grid of integrated microelectronics modules.

For ease of use we invented a self- organizing technique based on simple locally processed algorithms [7]. Small microprocessors on the integrated modules control the data flow. After an initial learning phase, each module in the fabric network knows its exact physical position within the grid. Moreover, the network automatically configures data flow paths through the grid, routing sensor or display information even around defective regions. Figure 7 shows the final status:

the channels for data flow within the grid are established, automatically routing around defective regions.

The unique feature of the proposed integration concept is its fault-tolerance:

by means of a self-organization technique, the fabric network automatically recognizes defective regions. It therefore remains operational even if a microdevice fails, or conductive threads are damaged. The fabric may even be cut to arbitrary shapes to fit into a given room while maintaining its function. Moreover, due to the self-

organization, booting is automatic. There is no need for a manual installation of the grid microelectronics.

6. Conclusion

The realization of 'textile electronics' is a

result of the convergence of microelectronics with textiles surrounding us in our daily life, be
result
of
the
convergence
of
microelectronics
with
textiles
surrounding us in our daily life,
be
it
clothing,
home textiles or technical
textiles.
This
process
requires
the
development
of
enabling
key
technologies.
Various
technology
demonstrators
were proposed which
consistently
aim
for
improving
the
interaction
between
the
human
individual
and information technology.
fabric with conductive threads
supply voltage
data lines
microelectronics module

Figure 6a Schematic of an embedded network of processing elements in a textile fabric

embedded network of processing elements in a textile fabric Fig. 6b Concept Demonstrator of a network
Fig. 6b Concept Demonstrator of a network of electronic units connected via conducting leads in
Fig. 6b Concept Demonstrator of a network of
electronic units connected via conducting leads in
the fabric.
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Figure 7 Final status of the self-organization: the channels for data flow are established, automatically routing around defective regions

They open the way to promising scenarios like ambient intelligence that may lead to a completely new market of microelectronic technologies in just a few years time.

References:

[1] "Ambient Intelligence, the Next Paradigm for Consumer Electronics: How Will it Affect Silicon?", F. Boekhorst, ISSCC, pp. 28-31, 2002. [2] "Enabling Technologies for Disappearing Electronics in Smart Textiles", S. Jung C. Lauterbach, M. Strasser, and W. Weber, ISSCC Tech. Digest, pp. 386-387, 2003. [3] "A Digital Music Player Tailored for Smart Textiles: First Results", S. Jung, C. Lauterbach, and W. Weber, Proc. Avantex-Symposium, 2002. [4] “Miniaturized Thermoelectric Generators Based on Poly-Si and Poly-SiGe Surface Micromachining”, M. Strasser, R. Aigner, M.

Franosch, G. Wachutka, Sensors and Actuators A, Vol. 97-98C, S. 528-535 (2002). [5] "Smart Clothes Self-Powered by Body Heat", C. Lauterbach, M. Strasser, S. Jung, and W. Weber, Proc. Avantex Symposium, 2002. [6] "Applications of Microelectronics and Sensors in Intelligent Textile Fabrics", S. Jung, T. Sturm, C. Lauterbach, G. Stromberg, and W. Weber, Proc. Techtextil 2003. [7] "A Novel Fault-Tolerant Architecture for Self- Organizing Display and Sensor Arrays", T. F. Sturm, S. Jung, G. Stromberg and A. Stöhr, in Jay Morreale ed., SID Symposium Tech. Dig., vol. XXXIII, Number II, pp. 1316-1319, 2002.