Research Initiative

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

The Internet of Things (IoT), the interconnection of sensors embedded in objects to send and receive data, has begun revolutionary changes in society. This is being accomplished through interconnectivity that helps industry track usage, increase personalization, and optimize performance. The huge amount of data generated through IoT gives industry the ability to measure, analyze and optimize their products and users’ experience. To date, cost, energy-efficiency and security have been major barriers 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 for non-silicon, disposable, wearable or large area sensors. IoT sensor nodes will also integrate traditional ICs to enable edge analytics, efficient low-power and secure wireless communication and networking. The SMART consortium will bring together companies interested in next generation 5G IoT networks and data analytics to Indiana.

Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center in Discovery Park is leading a research center with two dozen faculty across ten Schools and four Colleges to combine advances in roll-to-roll systems, functional printing, scalable nanomanufacturing, wearable devices and state-of-the-art electronics 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 5G IoT products in:

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


The Birck Nanotechnology Center (BNC) in Purdue’s Discovery Park is a $90 million, state-of-the-art nanofabrication and characterization facility that has engaged leading research groups in nanoelectronics, nanophotonics, MEMS, RF IC 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 $8 million in new smart film tools and is leading the Indiana effort together with the 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
Sartorius 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 smart films include an unparalleled inventory of scalable manufacturing tools, such as:

  • Roll-to-roll Inkjet/Laser processing; Coating (slot-die, microgravure);
  • High speed quality control and in-line monitoring (in collaboration with HP Printing Center at Purdue)
  • 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 including birefringence real time. Biaxial stretching system with real time mechano optical measurement system
  • 45 ft long manufacturing line to produce functional film with enhanced through thickness electrical, magnetic, thermal and dielectric properties. This is achieved using proprietary electric and magnetic field alignment of embedded functional particles or rodes during the film formation.
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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