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44 FLEX007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2018 Flexible circuits have played an invaluable role in the world of electronics design since they were introduced, typically to make dynamic interconnections between rigid islands of elec- tronic circuits. However, one of the benefits of flexible circuits most recently taken advantage of on a regular basis is as preferred medium for making electronic products thinner. And elec- tronic products of many different types have benefited. Perhaps the greatest users and ben- eficiaries of flexible circuits' low profile have been the now ubiquitous smartphones that both enable and often dominate many aspects of our lives. This trend towards making products smaller has been going on for years and is unlikely to abate any time soon. They have arguably created a whole new meaning to the term "Keeping a low profile." While flex circuits have played—and will continue to play—an important role in keeping things thin, they will need some help from the other elements of the electronic interconnec- tion hierarchy to continue the drive to make products ever thinner and smaller. A key tech- nological partner in that drive is the semicon- ductor industry. Today, semiconductor wafers are being thinned down to 25 µm and in some cases, even thinner. Interestingly, the limits of feature size reduction, once deemed hard stops, continue to be passed through due to the efforts of creative semiconductor engineers. These had been concerns owing to the fact that thinned wafers tend to warp and can even Flexible Thinking by Joe Fjelstad, VERDANT ELECTRONICS How Flex Can Help Circuits Keep a Low Profile

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