Fingerprint sensor based on piezo-nanowires

September 07, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
As promised, the European R&D project known as PiezoMAT has developed a pressure-based fingerprint sensor that enables resolution above 1,000 dots per inch, more than twice that required by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The 44-month, €3.9 million PiezoMAT (PIEZOelectric nanowire MATrices) research project was funded by the European Commission in the Seventh Framework Program with €2.9 million and ended in June 2017. It has demonstrated that a matrix of interconnected piezoelectric zinc-oxide (ZnO) nanowires grown on silicon can reconstruct the smallest features of human fingerprints at 1,000 dots per inch (DPI).

The collaboration includes research institutes Leti and Fraunhofer and OT-Morpho as the leading commercial participant. OT-Morpho is the working name of the merger of Oberthur and Safran Identity & Security, which is set to reveal its new name this month.

The research team has made a demonstrator IC embedding a silicon chip with 250 pixels, and its associated electronics for signal collection and post-processing. The chip was designed to demonstrate the concept and the major technological achievements, not the maximum potential nanowire integration density. Long-term development will pursue full electronics integration for optimal sensor resolution.

"This technology holds promise for significant improvement in both security and identification applications," said Antoine Viana, Leti’s project manager, in a statement.

PiezoMAT's partners include: Leti (Grenoble, France), Fraunhofer IAF (Freiburg, Germany), Centre for Energy Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest, Hungary), Universität Leipzig (Leipzig, Germany), Kaunas University of Technology (Kaunas, Lithuania), Tyndall National Institute (Cork, Ireland), Specific Polymers SA (Castries, France) and OT-Morpho (Paris, France).

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