Flexible and printed electronics, although a young technology, offers revolutionary flexibility in both literal and figurative senses of the word. Using flexible circuitry, manufacturers have the potential to create devices with functionalities that conventional electronic devices cannot achieve. These include displays, sensors and printed memories that can be bent, wrapped, rolled and stretched to give manufacturers the potential to make great strides in reducing cost, weight and power consumption of electronic devices. Progress will have to be made in reducing and optimising development cycles, as applications for the technology will continue to rapidly emerge in the coming years.
India is in an advantageous position to explore these segments because of the availability of multi-disciplinary experts and skilled workforce in the areas of electronics, physics and material science. Moreover, reputed academic and research institutes are already engaged in high-quality basic research in a variety of printed and potentially printed electronic and electric devices.
For example, Defence Laboratory, Jodhpur and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) are working on photovoltaics. Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) has set up National Centre for Flexible Electronics (NCFlexE) with an outlay of ` 1.33 billion. Out of the total outlay, ` 1.11 billion will be funded by Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and the contribution of IIT-K will be ` 218.7 million. The objective of NCFlexE is to spur the development of an ecosystem for flexible electronics in the country.
Development of flexible electronics in India is in line with Digital India vision of the government. This serves to develop the overall Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector to achieve net-zero imports by 2020, thereby, facilitating India’s image as an exports hub in the ESDM sector. It is with this objective that an electronic development fund is set up as a fund of funds to participate in professionally-managed daughter funds. This will, in turn, provide the risk capital to companies developing new technologies in the areas of electronics, nanoelectronics and information technology.
However, the Indian electronics industry is yet to make use of this opportunity to get a foothold in the emerging market for large-area flexible electronics. Considering that there are only a few well-established players in flexible electronics sector currently, and even those who are present have been in it for a relatively short duration, the Indian industry must explore this segment.