The Comeback of Xerox PARC @ Technology Review – [via]
Last month, a small Norwegian company called Thinfilm Electronics and PARC, the storied Silicon Valley research lab, jointly showed off a technological first—a plastic film that combined both printed transistors and printed digital memory.
Such flexible electronics could be an important component of future products, such as food packaging that senses and record temperatures, shock-sensing helmets, as well as smart toys. But the story of how PARC’s technology—the printed transistors—wound up paired with memory technology from an obscure Norwegian company also provides a window onto a 10-year struggle by Xerox to transform the way it commercializes R&D ideas.
For most of its 40-year history, PARC (for Palo Alto Research Center) was as famous for squandering new technologies as it was for inventing them. The mouse, the graphical user interface, and the drop-down menu were all born at PARC—but it was Apple and Microsoft that commercialized them and made them cornerstone inventions of the PC industry.
The Comeback of Xerox PARC – [Link]
Xerox’s process uses ink containing silver metal that can be used to wire up processing circuitry. It works on surfaces such as plastic that earlier have shown an inconvenient tendency to melt under the high temperature of liquid silver; Xerox’s process works with an ink compound with a much lower temperature, the company said.
The technology uses conventional inkjet printing methods, and though Xerox has used it with conventional desktop printers, the company expects that it would use continuous-feed printers that print on rolls rather than sheets of material. It doesn’t require the super-clean environments needed for conventional silicon chip manufacturing. The Xerox process actually requires printing three layers on a substrate: a semiconductor, a conductor and a dielectric. The silver ink is the layer that conducts electricity.
Xerox develops conductive ink for printable circuits – [Link]