By Putri Zerith Sofea

Large-area devices operated wirelessly may make the internet of things more affordable and environmentally friendly.

The internet of things (IoT) may become more economically and environmentally sustainable as a result of new thin-film device technologies that rely on alternative semiconductor materials such printable organics, nanocarbon allotropes, and metal oxides, according to a global team led by KING ABDULLAH UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY (KAUST).

Many businesses and daily life are expected to be significantly impacted by the IoT. It links and enables data interchange across numerous smart items of all sizes and shapes, including temperature-controlled factory equipment, self-driving automobiles, and remote-controlled home security systems, as well as other sensing and communications networks like the internet.

The number of sensor nodes deployed in this hypernetwork’s platforms is expected to increase as it grows, reaching billions of devices by the end of the next decade.

Battery technology is now utilised to power sensor nodes, however replacing batteries on a regular basis is expensive and eventually hazardous to the environment. Additionally, it’s possible that the existing worldwide production of lithium for battery materials won’t be able to meet the rising energy needs caused by the expanding number of sensors.

By utilising so-called energy harvesters, such as solar cells and radio-frequency (RF) energy harvesters, among other technologies, wirelessly powered sensor nodes could contribute to the development of a sustainable IoT. These power sources may be enabled by large-area electronics.

With the help of Thomas Anthopoulos and colleagues, KAUST alumnus Kalaivanan Loganathan evaluated the practicality of several large-area electrical technologies and their potential to produce environmentally friendly, wirelessly powered IoT sensors.

Due to substantial advancements in solution-based processing, which have made it simpler to print devices and circuits on flexible, large-area substrates, large-area electronics have lately become a compelling alternative to traditional silicon-based technology. They are more environmentally friendly than their silicon-based equivalents since they can be made at low temperatures and on biodegradable materials like paper.

A variety of RF electronic components, including metal-oxide and organic polymer-based Schottky diodes, have been created throughout time by Anthopoulos’ team. According to Loganathan, “These devices are essential elements in wireless energy harvesters and ultimately determine the performance and cost of the sensor nodes.”

In order to demonstrate the full potential of these low-power devices, the team is looking into their monolithic integration with antenna and sensors, Loganathan continues.


  1. Portilla, L., Loganathan, K., Faber, H., Eid, A., Hester, J. G. D., Tentzeris, M. M., Fattori, M, Cantatore, E., Jiang, C., Nathan, A., Fiori, G., Ibn-Mohammed, T., Anthopoulos, T. D. & Pecunia, V. Wirelessly powered large-area electronics for eco-friendly Internet of Things. Nature Electronics advance online publication (2022).| article