PSI News: Smart Labels and Swedish QA
PSI News is the monthly newsletter of Polymer Solutions Incorporated. Please let us know how we're doing. If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this issue:
=> Feature Story: Smart Labels
=> Employee Profile: A Swedish Obsession With Quality
=> Highlights from the Polymer Solutions Newsblog
=> Company News and Notes
by Rachel Petkewich
Exclusive to Polymer Solutions News
Keeping everything from carrots to vaccines fresh often depends on properly controlling storage temperature. The temperature sensor stickers currently used are pretty simple indicators: a chemical reaction changes the color of the sticker at certain thresholds, indicating that there might be spoilage. Now, four companies are contributing to a first-of-its-kind temperature-recording sticker with all-printed electronic components on plastic that can do more sophisticated monitoring.
David Talbot writes for Technology Review:
Thin Film Electronics, based in Oslo, Norway, aims to marry the company's printed memory with printed transistors from PARC in Palo Alto, California; a printed temperature sensor from PST Sensors, a spin-off from the University of Cape Town in South Africa; and a printed battery from Imprint Energy, a spin-off from the University of California, Berkeley. The first prototype using all the components is expected later this year.
Academics have been working on printed electronics for a long time, but Janos Veres, PARC’s printed electronics team manager, told Technology Review “what's new is ‘somebody trying to do it commercially and figuring out what are the first things you can make with 10 or 20 bits of memory and a simple battery.’”
The plan is that these printed transistors will work with a printed display or a contact readout. The researchers are aiming for six to nine months of battery power, which would help the sticker to conduct continuous measurements for a detailed history of that carrot’s environs so an issue would be easy to spot.
Jennifer Ernst, a vice president for Thin Film Electronics, told Talbot that the details of the technologies are still in development. However, “if it all works out and the performance is reliable, ‘we can achieve cost targets that [traditional] silicon systems just can't touch,’” she added.
But will the price for these stickers be untouchable too? The color-change stickers cost pennies. Simple, printed electronics stickers are estimated at 30 cents or less each. The high-end systems that can keep tabs on exact temperatures for the long time with display and retrieval options, which are expected to be used for high-value items or pallet-sized shipments, could run from $15 on up.
But these stickers have the potential to extend well beyond temperature applications to entertainment and even brake jobs. Martin LaMonica writes for CNET how printed electronics are redefining what the computer is:
[Thin Film Electronics] sees integrated printable electronics replacing silicon processors and enabling the Internet of things. For example, the company has deals to supply smart tags that add interactivity to toys and games. It has also had discussions with auto companies to use tags to gather data on vehicle brakes and notify drivers when they need service.
Source: “Printed Stickers Designed to Monitor Food Temperatures,” Technology Review, 1/30/12
Source: “Smart tag lets you print electronics on plastic,” CNET, 1/23/12
Image courtesy of Thin Film Electronics.
Employee Profile: A Swedish Obsession With Quality
Carola Bousserghine, PSI's Quality Assurance Manager
Interview by Rachel Petkewich, News Editor
Polymer Solutions Newsblog
Carola Bousserghine sums up her role as PSI’s Quality Assurance Manager pretty succinctly: She can assure customers that everything PSI does -- whether it is technical or administrative -- is of the highest quality.
Carola has nearly 20 years of experience in quality assurance. With higher education in business and quality from both U.S. and Swedish institutions, Carola had been living and working for 13 years in Sweden and France in the shipping industry. She was a quality and safety representative for ship owners that transported oil and chemical products. Her parents retired near Blacksburg, so she and her family decided it was time to be close to family and moved back to the U.S. She joined the PSI team four years ago.
At PSI, Carola oversees the quality department. One of her responsibilities is the integrity of all data and documentation produced by PSI. That includes details of all procedures and testing methods, such as how equipment is qualified, maintained, and calibrated. She verifies that the equipment used to do testing is in compliance and that the people running the equipment have the appropriate credentials and training.
Carola describes quality assurance as “documentation-heavy,” so she is constantly trying to make the various systems as efficient as possible and ensure proper documentation. She also maintains PSI’s compliance with regulations such as ISO 17025 and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. There is a lot of procedure related to compliance, and she is always available to answer questions and find solutions.
Outside of PSI, Carola likes to get her hands dirty in her flower and vegetable garden. In the kitchen, she enjoys cooking Swedish, French, and Moroccan food (or a combination of them all) and fine wines. She also gets some quality-time with her husband and the two children that remain at home doing different activities. For example, each member of the family participates in karate. (Her seven-year-old son is quite proud of the fact that he currently has the highest belt rank.) Carola’s clan adores being out on the water, and they enjoy as many inland water activities as they can, living several hours from the coast. They travel back to Europe as often as possible too. One of their favorite activities? Swimming in the Mediterranean, of course.
Photo courtesy of Polymer Solutions Incorporated.
Highlights from the Polymer Solutions Newsblog
The PSI Newsblog covers breaking news in the fields of plastics analysis, plastics testing, and plastics failure. Here are a few of the month's top articles:
- Medical Devices That Run on Music
In the future, music could power a prototype implant for monitoring the bladders of incontinent patients or tracking blood pressure in damaged blood vessels.
- Using Ionic Polymers to Make Safer Explosives
Texas Tech University researchers are working on making an optically active explosive material that could eliminate the need for toxic heavy metals.
- Bottle Ban for Grand Canyon
To help curb litter, sale of disposable plastic water containers under one gallon will be banned at the Grand Canyon starting this spring.
- Kaiser Permanente, P&G Cut Out PVC
In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, Kaiser Permanente and Procter and Gamble will no longer use polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in their products.
- PFCs May Interfere With Vaccines
Research suggests that exposure to common environmental toxins may be reducing the effectiveness of some vaccinations and potentially damaging immune systems.
Company News and Notes
PSI Exhibiting at the MPO Symposium in Costa Rica
PSI is sending a four-person team to exhibit at the Medical Products Outsourcing Symposium, Monday-Wednesday, March 19-21, in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Jason Todd Presenting at ANTEC April 2nd
Jason Todd will be presenting at ANTEC, which is co-located with the International Plastics Showcase (NPE 2012). The conference is being held on Monday-Wednesday, April 2-4 in Orlando, Florida. Jason’s presentation, titled The Role of Chemical Analysis and Physical Testing in Failure Analysis of Plastics, is scheduled for Monday afternoon, April 2. Jason will provide an overview of relevant chemical analysis and physical testing methods, using real-world examples from projects we have completed, to show the valuable information these tests reveal about the cause of failure in plastic products.
Nathan Hylton Promoted to Senior Laboratory Technician
Nathan started his third year at PSI this month and has been promoted to Senior Laboratory Technician in PSI’s Applied Chemistry and Spectroscopy Lab. Nathan’s love and respect of science is made evident by his curiosity and quality of work. Dr. Alan Sentman had the following to say about Nathan, “Nathan has been managing 32+ hour work weeks while attending classes full time, which is amazing. He’s become skilled at most everything we do in the ACS lab, and has done the method development for several methods, such as formaldehyde by UV-Vis and various titrations and extractions.” Congratulations, Nathan!
Jim Rancourt Participated in the SE Virginia AMP Forum
Jim Rancourt attended the Advanced Materials Partnership forum at the Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Virginia. The February 28th forum was a gathering of scientists and engineers from around the state who presented material innovations being developed by their organizations. Jim had the opportunity to present to the forum PSI’s history of enabling technology and material innovations by partnering with high-tech organizations around the world.
Thank you for reading Polymer Solutions News! Please feel free to forward this newsletter to others who might be interested and they can subscribe below.
Subscribe to our Newsletter for industry updates:
Polymer Solutions News is a monthly publication of Polymer Solutions Incorporated, an independent laboratory and a strategic global resource for chemical analysis, physical testing, research and development services, and litigation services. Please email us with any corrections, comments, reprint requests, suggestions for stories, requests for quotes, or other feedback.