More and more people want to replace their fossil-fuel cars with electric ones. Car manufacturers are trying to keep up with customer demands in battery capacity, recharging speeds and driving range. They are even developing self-driving cars as a solution to our increasingly congested roads.
Holst Centre innovation helps the automotive industry expand its possibilities through flexible electronics. We are active in a wide range of areas, from smart interior surfaces and non-contact monitoring of drivers to power source and battery management.
Towards lighter, better batteries
For electric vehicles to be widely adopted by the public, they need to match the range, performance and convenience of fossil-fuel cars. That means they need batteries that are lighter, have higher capacities and can be recharged in minutes.
Holst Centre applies its expertise in thin-film technologies to enhance lithium battery performance in two ways. Firstly, we help manufacturers optimize existing lithium-ion batteries by extending their lifespan or increase charging rates. This is made possible with spatial atomic layer depositioning, which enables roll-to-roll manufacturing with sub-nanometer control of layer properties. Secondly, we are pioneering a novel 3D solid-state battery that promises a unique combination of safety, fast charging, high charge density and longer lifespan, helping reduce weight and extend driving range for electric vehicles.
Monitoring driver alertness
To keep traffic flowing on our increasingly congesting roads, cars will drive themselves one day. Until then, the driver needs to remain alert and in control. Car manufacturers are looking into possibilities to monitor the alertness of the driver and the other passengers in the car.
Together with the automotive industry, Holst Centre develops non-contact sensing solutions based on printed electronics technologies. We combine various types of printed sensors (temperature, pressure, etc.) into large area arrays that can be seamlessly integrated into car seats and other objects that are in contact with the driver, such as the seat belt or steering wheel. These sensors monitor driver alertness and stress levels and can send a signal to the driver, which helps reduce accidents caused by driver tiredness or inattention.
Car manufacturers are also looking into the car interior, trying to bring it to the next level. Therefore, car interior design is becoming increasingly 'clean', with dashboard controls invisibly integrated behind materials such as wood, textiles and plastics. This trend will accelerate as autonomous vehicles become mainstream, and car interiors look and feel more like a living room or office.
To enable this trend, Holst Centre is working on, among others, proximity detection, direct touch and force sensing, lighting, displays and haptic feedback. Through our in-mould electronics (IME) platform, we can bring all these elements together and turn "dumb" plastic panels into "smart" multifunctional consoles while increasing design freedom, cutting costs and reducing weight.
In summary, Holst Centre integrates its technology with that of its industry partners. Moreover, we provide education and training to help companies and organizations throughout the automotive value chain understand the new possibilities that flexible electronics can bring.