Skip to main content.
Fingerprint biometrics

Webinar: A silicon-free future
for biometric sensors

A silicon-free future for biometric sensors

On Thursday 12 October, our Foundry Commercial Director, Vincent Barlier and Senior Director Design Platform, David Verity hosted a webinar – in partnership with Biometric Update’s Chris Burt – describing how Pragmatic’s unique flexible integrated circuits (FlexICs) can enable a silicon-free future for applications such as fingerprint smart cards.

At the end of the webinar, Vincent and Dave took a series of questions from webinar attendees. Have a question? Click the button below to submit a question to us.

Submit a question
Vincent Barlier and Dave Verity


Here, Vincent and David respond to questions received during the webinar.

How large can the sensor be?

We can comfortably produce any sensor within the 25x30mm reticle dimension on our 300mm line. We can also consider larger sensors, but this requires more engineering and becomes more application specific.

Do you use the same stitching method as the silicon semiconductor industry?

We use the same kind of lithographic techniques as the silicon semiconductor industry, so the tools that we use to create the patterning for the different layers can absolutely be used to stitch together side-by-side reticle shots.  

We’ve explored this in multiple contexts – stitching together whole reticles, multi-level masks, printing in a jigsaw style, and so on. All are possible.

How do you deal with the security of the biometric data contained or persistent in a disposable item?

Most of the biometric data captured by sensors today is encrypted, so from a user point of view, it’s protected. But this is not our area of expertise. We’re a semiconductor foundry; we simply provide the manufacturing platform. It’s something we’d expect to be addressed by the customer and/or the ecosystem.

Thinking about biometric sensors, do you need an ASIC to readout images?

The readout circuitry can be part of the FlexIC itself, or a silicon readout chip can be combined with a FlexIC-based array. 

With FlexICs, you can make the sensor much bigger, and capture more data which decreases the complexity of the ASIC that’s doing the heavyweight post-processing and image matching. It also reduces the cost of the sensor itself.

Is Pragmatic providing hardware only or also downstream software?

Pragmatic is a hardware manufacturer only. Our products are compatible with software tools for ASIC design, but we don’t provide them.

Will there be a range of form factors? 

We can dice the FlexIC to virtually any shape. The thin and flexible nature of FlexICs also provides great advantages at a system level, where the electronics module can be made smaller and more flexible.

Can the FlexIC be sewn or integrated into wearables like gloves, or installed on non-flat surfaces (curved scanning)?

Yes, it can be integrated. This is one of the unique attributes of thin/flexible integrated circuits. Generally speaking, there are better ways than sewing to attach chips, and we tend to recommend conventional attach methodologies from the semiconductor industry.

Does the flexibility introduce risks of image distortion over the lifetime of the sensor?

We do not expect image distortion if the sensor conforms to a surface, but this depends on the type of sensing you use. Optical sensors may be more sensitive to the curve while capacitive sensors are unlikely to be impacted.

Is your flex sensor capacity, ultrasonic, or optical?

Our technology is agnostic to the type of sensing, but we have seen value in capacitive as well as pressure sensing. We believe there are also benefits for optical sensing, such as detection in the infrared region. 

In fact, combining two sensing types, such as capacitive and optical, could enable the capture of veins and ridges in the fingerprints, which could bring another level of biometric identification.

Watch the webinar recording back

Complete the short form below for instant access to the video recording

Fingerprint biometrics card

Find out more and explore fingerprint smart card applications

FlexICs are a new type of integrated circuit: flexible, cost-effective, highly customizable and the only real alternative to silicon chips for biometric sensors.

Find out more