Research Initiative

Low-cost Dressing for Chronic Wound & Burn Management Dust size self-powered wireless sensor

Internet of Things (IoT), the interconnection of sensors embedded in objects to send and receive data, already started bringing revolutionary changes in life in the society. This is accomplished through interconnectivity that helps industry track usage, increase personalization, and optimize performance. The huge amount of data generated through IoT gives industries the ability to measure, analyze and optimize their products and their users’ experience. To date, cost has been a major barrier to the widespread implementation of IoT. Traditional silicon-based sensors are powerful but come with sensing limitations and their production is often cost prohibitive even in mid-volume applications. Our goal is to establish a foundry facility similar to that existing for silicon IC chips. This pilot facility together with the local community IoT testbeds will be unique resources that can bring companies interested in diverse applications of IoT and data analytics to the Wabash region and Indiana.

Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center in Discovery Park is leading a research initiative with two dozen faculty across ten Schools and four Colleges to combine advances in roll-to-roll systems, functional printing, and scalable low-cost nanomanufacturing to enable widespread use of IoT and digital technology. With Purdue’s strengths in engineering, agriculture, science, polytechnic and pharmacy there is particular interest in focusing efforts on smart thin film devices which could enable revolutionary products in:

  • digital agriculture and smart food packaging (farm-to-fork)
  • digital health, compliance and human performance monitoring
  • next generation manufacturing and smart infrastructure
Smart Wound Bandage graphically explained


The Birck Nanotechnology Center (BNC) in Purdue’s Discovery Park isa $90 million, state-of-the-art nanofabrication and characterization facility that has already engaged leading research groups in nanoelectronics, nanophotonics, MEMS, RFIC design, nanobiotechnology, composite manufacturing, polymer processing, and analytic chemistry. We are working closely with Purdue’s $20M HP Printing Center specialized in hardware and software needed for manufacturing quality control. Since 2014, BNC has invested $3 million in new smart film tools and is leading the Indiana node together with Battery Innovation Center and IUPUI for the U.S. Department of Defense’s five-year, $171 million effort to launch the Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NextFlex).

Current SMART Consortium industry partners include:

Applied Materials Logo
Eli Lilly and Company Logo
United Technologies Logo
Landauer Logo
Bayer Logo

A pilot IoT/sensor manufacturing plant is being set up which provides an anchor investment to entirely new opportunities for the region. This pilot facility will produce 1000’s to 100,000’s sensors and functional films on paper, PET or other flexible substrates. The integration of traditional flexible hybrid electronics provides fully functional IoT nodes with communication and networking enabling data storage and analytics in the cloud.


BNC lab facilities dedicated to IoT include an unparalleled inventory of manufacturing tools, such as:

  • Roll-to-roll Inkjet/Laser processing; Coating (slot-die, microgravure);
  • High speed quality control and in-line monitoring
  • Roll-to-roll plasma chemical vapor deposition
  • Instrumented drying system to simulate R2R process conditions
  • Instrumented testing system for uniaxial extension and bending while monitoring true stress strain and electrical & optical properties. Biaxial stretching system with real time optical anisotropy
  • 45ft long functional film manufacturing line with local control of anisotropic electrical, magnetic, thermal and dielectric properties designed by Dr. Miko Cakmak
New 45 ft Functional Film Manufacturing Line (winter 2018)

Consortium Benefits

The SMART Consortium provides a structure by which interested companies can collaborate with Purdue researchers, and with each other, in the pursuit of exploratory pre-competitive research in low cost IoT device manufacturing, IoT communication and networking as well as data analytics for a variety of applications in healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, and smart infrastructure. Direct benefits of Consortium membership are many, and include:

  • Membership to the Consortium Advisory Council that prioritizes Consortium-funded projects.
  • Frequent recruiting opportunities to the Consortium’s diverse group of graduate students and postdocs.
  • Early access to research data/papers from Consortium-funded projects and the shared-data IoT testbed.
  • Member-company engineer/scientist can have access to a shared BNC office and conference room, and the option to work in BNC labs (subject to university fees & policies).
  • Partnership opportunities (industry and government).


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