Nanoident targets biometrics, mobile devices

July 1, 2006
LINZ, AUSTRIA-Nanoident Technologies is hoping its ultra-thin, organic semiconductor-based nanolayers can help the company slide into market faster than previous nanotechnologies.

LINZ, AUSTRIA-Nanoident Technologies is hoping its ultra-thin, organic semiconductor-based nanolayers can help the company slide into market faster than previous nanotechnologies. Nanoident initially plans to use its photonics platform as the basis for a new family of biometric sensors that are thinner and less expensive than conventional silicon detectors, according to CEO Klaus Schroeter. To support this effort, the company has established a biometrics division and appointed Alain Jutant, former business development and consumer imaging product line director at ATMEL, as head of that division.

“We are focused on creating optoelectronic sensors that can convert light into electrical signals, not for power but for measurement,” Schroeter said. “Our photonic solutions platform enables us to realize a very broad range of products, from simple photodiodes for light switches to large-area photodetectors for image analysis.”

The Photonic Solutions Platform comprises three key components: organic photodiodes that convert light into electrical signals, sensor-embedded multicolor OLED light sources that illuminate an object during a data acquisition process, and sensor embedded electronics that provide analog/digital sensor interface and additional smart sensor functionality. For biometrics, the technology is being incorporated into two sensor types: entry-level fingerprint sensors and high-performance multimodal biometric sensors. The multimodal capability enables the detection of multiple biometric traits, including tissue structures beneath the surface of the skin and blood parameters, and solves the two most pressing problems in biometrics: insufficient recognition accuracy and insufficient protection against security attacks. According to the company, the simultaneous capture of fingerprint and unique skin properties significantly increases recognition accuracy, while the detection of blood parameters enhances protection against identity theft by means of a fake finger.

In addition, the company’s technology lends itself to more cost-effective manufacturing processes. Using organic semiconductor alternatives to silicon-specifically, conjugated polymers with proprietary additives-ultra-thin (30-300 nm) organic material layers can be deposited in liquid form, enabling circuits to be printed directly onto almost any surface-including PET foil, glass or paper-with an inkjet printer. This manufacturing process significantly reduces the cost of biometric sensors, creating new opportunities for the sensors to be embedded into mobile devices such as smart phones or PDAs for increased security. In addition, the spectral sensitivity can be tailored to application-specific needs simply by modifying the organic semiconductor material, enabling detection systems that work without optical filters.

“Due to the unique characteristics of organic semiconductor based photonic solutions, our customers can create new devices at significantly lower cost than today’s silicon-based solutions,” Schroeter, said. “With the Nanoident platform, for example, current biometric solutions can become more secure, medical on-site diagnostics can be improved and consumers can enjoy new flexible displays on the latest electronic devices.”

In addition to biometrics and security applications, the company is also targeting industrial and life-science applications. According to Schroeter, the company has already had interest from cell-phone manufacturers with interest in fingerprint identification and anticipates another announcement in the near future related to the use of its technology in the industrial sector.

“With substantially lower costs, these sensors can directly replace silicon-based fingerprint sensors in a wide range of existing applications, such as access control, USB memory sticks, mobile and handheld devices, or IT security systems,” Jutant said. -KK

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