Mar 1, 2023
Substituting silicon chips with flexible semiconductors can vastly reduce the environmental impact of smart products.
A new white paper from Pragmatic looks at the emissions profile of semiconductor manufacturing, and its impact on the carbon footprint of smart products.
The paper finds that substituting silicon chips for fit-for-purpose flexible integrated circuits (FlexICs) can reduce energy and resource consumption, both during fabrication and in deployment.
Silicon-based semiconductor production has historically had a poor environmental record, relying on vast amounts of water and energy. But Pragmatic’s innovative FlexIC production process removes resource- and energy-intensive steps, resulting in the use of fewer and safer chemicals and gases, and the consumption of substantially less water. This has a significant impact on the chips’ overall carbon footprint.
The company’s decentralised fabrication model also has implications for supply chain emissions: ‘Fab-as-a-Service’ allows for manufacturing directly on a customer site, eliminating the need for transportation from offshore fabrication plants (fabs).
“Technology, and the Internet of Everything, is often posited as a silver bullet for reducing emissions,” says Joshua Young, Director, Market Development, “but we can’t forget that technology carries its own carbon footprint.
“Low-carbon semiconductor manufacturing can help address this challenge. Flexible semiconductors won’t completely replace silicon, but they can be used where silicon isn’t viable due to cost and form factor constraints. And they can significantly reduce the total emissions of devices and smart objects. “An additional benefit for manufacturers is the vast reduction in production times – from months to a matter of weeks.”
As well as having a lower environmental footprint than silicon, flexible chips could play a key role in the circular economy, particularly in packaging recycling and reuse.
“A flexible chip on a bottle of fizzy drink will contribute only 0.4 per cent to its carbon footprint,” continues Joshua, “but the added intelligence can help keep valuable resources in circulation for longer, leading to a significant reduction of overall carbon footprint across product lifecycles.”
To find out more and download your copy of the white paper, click here.