Foldable Printed Circuit Boards on Paper Substrates



This paper describes several low-cost methods for fabricating flexible electronic circuits on paper. The circuits comprise i) metallic wires (e.g., tin or zinc) that are deposited on the substrate by evaporation, sputtering, or airbrushing, and ii) discrete surface-mountable electronic components that are fastened with conductive adhesive directly to the wires. These electronic circuits—like conventional printed circuit boards—can be produced with electronic components that connect on both sides of the substrate. Unlike printed circuit boards made from fiberglass, ceramics, or polyimides, however, paper can be folded and creased (repeatedly), shaped to form three-dimensional structures, trimmed using scissors, used to wick fluids (e.g., for microfluidic applications) and disposed of by incineration. Paper-based electronic circuits are thin and lightweight; they should be useful for applications in consumer electronics and packaging, for disposable systems for uses in the military and homeland security, for applications in medical sensing or low-cost portable diagnostics, for paper-based microelectromechanical systems, and for applications involving textiles.