Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action IF STRECHLENS

“STRECHLENS-Deformable platform with thin-film based circuits and ultra-thin Si chips for smart contact lens applications”

Andrés Filipe Vasquez Quintero


The STRETCHLENS project includes inter/multidisciplinary activities that encompass the modelling, design and realization of electrically-interconnected multilayer stretchable systems, including UTC’s and LC cells towards smart contact lens applications.
Number of partners: Host Institute: imec (Belgium) and Ghent University (Belgium)
Details of coordinator: prof. Jan Vanfleteren,, Centre for Microsystems Technology (CMST), Ghent University, affiliated with imec
Duration: 24 months, starting on September 2016

The project

STRECHLENSA smart contact lens is a device in direct contact with the eye, having integrated electronic functionalities in order to improve the well-being of the user. In that respect, these devices are envisaged to address diverse complex aspects, such as providing augmented reality, performing biomedical sensing and correcting or improving vision.

For the first two application areas, possible approaches have already been demonstrated. However, the use of smart contact lenses to correct vision has only been recently proposed through the help of integrated liquid crystal (LC) cells. The integration of these LC cells in a contact lens is in particular appealing for ophthalmological disorders like iris perforation and presbyopia; the latter alone affecting more than 1 billion people.

The STRETCHLENS platform envisages the hybrid integration of electro-optic capabilities (e.g. LC cells), RF transmission (e.g. antenna, ultra-thin Si chip - UTC), specific biomarker sensing (e.g. to identify some types of cancer cells) and thin-film based stretchable electrical interconnections. The platform, besides being stretchable due to the spherical shape of eye and manipulations during insertion/extraction of the lens, will incorporate novel 3-D electrical interconnections which will allow for multilayer metallization to integrate UTC’s, minimizing surface area and greatly improving miniaturization.

Furthermore, the project will develop new knowledge through technological advancement and models of adhesion/cohesion at the interface of hard/soft composites, in order to predict delamination failures and optimize assemblies through design. The completion and development of such highly integrated stretchable systems will open up diverse research opportunities in the fields of biomaterial science, stretchable micromechanics, and autonomous biomedical and conformal electronics smart systems.


These are the objectives of STRECHLENS:

•    Realize fully stretchable and bio-fitted platform with integrated liquid crystal (LC) cells.
•    Integrate within such platforms ultra-thin silicon chips (UTC’s) for the correct functioning.
•    Design and fabricate thin-film based stretchable electronics to link the LC cells and UTC chips.

    Role of Ghent University

    Professor Jan Vanfleteren’s group at the CMST (Centre for Microsystems Technology) at the Ghent University is one of the leading groups in the world in stretchable electronics and ultra-thin Si chip (UTC) integration for biocompatible applications. Besides having authored more than 200 scientific journal articles and 14 patents, Prof. Vanfleteren has been the coordinator of several European Commission funded projects such as the FP5 CSG IMECAT (Interconnection Materials for Environmentally Compatible Assembly Technologies) and the FP6-IST SHIFT (Smart High Integration Flex Technologies). He is also the general coordinator of the running FP7 Integrated Project TERASEL (2013-2017) on thermoplastically deformable circuits for embedded randomly shaped electronics. In addition, Prof. Herbert De Smet’s group also at the Ghent University is specialized in micro-displays and smart electro-optic components.
    Besides being a member and director of the Mid-Europe chapter of the Society for Information Display (SID), along with his group they are the pioneers of the integration of LC cells into biocompatible smart contact lenses for vision correction applications. Their multidisciplinary way of working enhances fast learning and communication which matches the interests of fostering interdisciplinary collaborations among fields such as biomaterial science, stretchable micromechanics, and autonomous conformal electronics smart systems.
    The experience of working between these two groups will provide the ER with the necessary tools for the modeling and design of highly integrated, stretchable and smart systems, which would allow for a better healthcare diagnosis/monitoring improving both the quality and length of human life at an accessible cost. Finally, access to state of the art clean room facilities in the Technologiepark at Ghent would allow the processing and fabrication of the platforms for the smart contact lenses.


    Dr. Andrés Vásquez Quintero
    Electronica en Informatiesystemem
    Centre for Microsystems Technology
    Ghent University
    Affiliated with IMEC vzw
    tel : +32-9-264.66.24

    Prof. Jan Vanfleteren
    Electronica en Informatiesystemem
    Centre for Microsystems Technology
    Ghent University
    Affiliated with IMEC vzw
    tel : +32-9-264.53.60