Firms reveal ‘world’s first’ flexible fingerprint and vein sensors
19 January 2016 14:13 GMT

Cambridge-based FlexEnable and Grenoble-based ISORG, specialists in flexible organic electronics and organic photodetectors and large area image sensors, have revealed technology which could enable flexible biometric sensors to be deployed on totally new surfaces.

Describing it as the “the world’s first large area flexible fingerprint sensor on plastic designed for biometric applications”, the firms say the tech could enable “new generation biometric solutions”, for instance a fingerprint sensor wrapped around a car steering wheel.

With a thickness of 0.03cm, an 8.6 x 8.6cm active area, 84µm pitch and 1024 x 1024 pixel resolution, the sensor is said to operate in visible and near infrared up to wavelengths of 900nm. The technology is also capable of measuring not only the fingerprint, but the configuration of veins in the fingers as well, providing additional security versus that of a surface fingerprint alone.

This has been achieved by deposition of ISORG’s organic printed photodetectors (OPD) onto FlexEnable’s plastic organic thin-film transistor backplane to create a flexible fingerprint sensor that is light, robust and lensless. The companies claim that the sensing area can be applied to almost any surface, such as a credit card with integrated biometric detection that does not compromise current form factors.

Chuck Milligan, CEO of FlexEnable, said: “Imagine a mobile device whose surface or edges know who is holding or touching the device. Such capabilities are viable because of the flexibility, thinness, and much lower cost per unit area compared to silicon area sensors.”

The companies said that the cost advantages of flexible plastic fingerprint sensors to area manufacturing are due to the low temperature and printing process on plastic rather than silicon. Moreover, fingerprint sensors made of plastic have similar optical performances to conventional optical fingerprint sensors such as sensitivity, linearity, and low noise, but without the need for expensive and bulky optics.

Jean-Yves Gomez, CEO of ISORG, added: “This breakthrough development will spark the creation of next-generation products in biometrics. No other solution can offer large area sensing as well as finger print and vein recognition while being flexible, light and robust. Moreover, our team is able to provide reference design as well as image improvement algorithms and illumination solutions to ease the sensor integration into new applications.”

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