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A printed proximity-sensing surface based on organic pyroelectric sensors and organic thin-film transistor electronics


Large-area, flexible proximity-sensing surfaces are useful in a range of applications including process control, work security and robotics. However, current systems typically require rigid and thick electronics, which limit how they can be used. Here we report a flexible large-area proximity-sensing surface fabricated using printed organic materials and incorporating analogue front-end electronics in each pixel. The sensing surface is built with printed thin-film pyroelectric sensors based on poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-trifluoroethylene) co-polymers and printed organic thin-film transistors. A 5 × 10 matrix frontplane, consisting of long-wavelength infrared organic pyroelectric sensors, is laminated with an organic transistor analogue front-end backplane. The electronic front end provides sensor-signal amplification and pixel addressing to maximize the detection distance and reduce pixel crosstalk. An average yield of 82% fully working pixels for the backplane and a maximum system yield of 96%, which corresponds to 768 defect-free devices, are achieved. The system can detect a human hand approaching from different directions and track the position of a movable heat source up to a distance of around 0.4 m at a readout speed of 100 frames per second.

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Fig. 1: Proposed proximity-sensing surface.
Fig. 2: Prototype of a proximity-sensing surface.
Fig. 3: Pyroelectric sensor characterization.
Fig. 4: Evaluation of directivity detection of the proximity-sensing surface.
Fig. 5: Demonstration of human proximity detection (proof of concept).

Data availability

All relevant data in this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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We would like to acknowledge financial support from the European Commission for the projects ATLASS (Horizon 2020, Nanotechnologies, Advanced Material and Production theme, contract no. 636130, to M.F., J.F., E.C., M.C., D.L., S.L., C.L., L.T., S.J, K.R., R.C., H.G., M.A., M.Z., J.G., A.T., M.P., B.L., B.S. and J.S.).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



M.F. designed and simulated the system, performed the electrical characterizations together with J.F., and wrote the article with the help of P.H. and E.C. S.C. performed the optical characterization of the pyroelectric sensors. M.C. and R.C. lead the research and development of the OTFT technology on the CEA pilot line. D.L. together with S.L. developed and optimized the gravure-printing process steps. C.L. performed the OTFT electrode fabrication with both photolithography and screen-printing techniques. L.T. carried out the backplane layout optimization and generation of printing mask sets. S.J. and K.R. performed the electrical characterization and data analysis of the OTFTs. H.G. contributed to the design and layout of the sensor frontplane. M.A. manufactured the sensor frontplanes via screen printing. M.Z. and M.P. poled and characterized the uniformity of the sensor frontplane. J.G. and A.T. performed experiments on the pyroelectric sensors and developed a suitable electric model. B.L. designed and simulated the funnel array for the sensor frontplane. B.S. lead the development of the pyroelectric sensor technology. J.S. performed the lamination of the backplane with the frontplane. E.C., M.C., R.C., H.G. and B.S. planned the research.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marco Fattori.

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Nature Electronics thanks Jan Genoe and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–10, Tables 1–6 and Discussion.

Supplementary Video 1

Demonstration of human hand detection with the proposed proximity-sensing surface not equipped with the funnel array.

Supplementary Video 2

Demonstration of localized heat source detection with the proposed proximity-sensing surface not equipped with the funnel array.

Supplementary Video 3

Demonstration of localized heat source detection with the proposed proximity-sensing surface equipped with the funnel array.

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Fattori, M., Cardarelli, S., Fijn, J. et al. A printed proximity-sensing surface based on organic pyroelectric sensors and organic thin-film transistor electronics. Nat Electron 5, 289–299 (2022).

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