Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers Devise New Means For Creating Elastic Conductors

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new method for creating elastic conductors made of carbon nanotubes, which will contribute to large-scale production of the material for use in a new generation of elastic electronic devices.

“We’re optimistic that this new approach could lead to large-scale production of stretchable conductors, which would then expedite research and development of elastic electronic devices,” says Dr. Yong Zhu, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State, and lead author of a paper describing the new technique.

The buckled nanotubes look like squiggly lines on a flat surface.

The buckled nanotubes look like squiggly lines on a flat surface.
Stretchable electronic devices would be both more resilient and able to conform to various shapes. Potential applications include devices that can be incorporated into clothing, implantable medical devices, and sensors that can be stretched over unmanned aerial vehicles.

To develop these stretchable electronics, one needs to create conductors that are elastic and will reliably transmit electric signals regardless of whether they are being stretched.

One way of making conductive materials more elastic is to “buckle” them. Zhu’s new method buckles carbon nanotubes on the plane of the substrate. Think of the nanotubes as forming squiggly lines on a piece of paper, rather than an accordion shape that zigs up and down with only the bottom parts touching the sheet of paper. Zhu’s team used carbon nanotubes because they are sturdy, stable, excellent conductors and can be aligned into ribbons.

The new process begins by placing aligned carbon nanotubes on an elastic substrate using a transfer printing process. The substrate is then stretched, which separates the nanotubes while maintaining their parallel alignment.

Strikingly, when the substrate is relaxed, the nanotubes do not return to their original positions. Instead, the nanotubes buckle – creating what looks like a collection of parallel squiggly lines on a flat surface.

The carbon nanotubes are now elastic – they can be stretched – but they have retained their electrical properties.

The key benefit of this new method is that it will make manufacturing of elastic conductors significantly more efficient, because the carbon nanotubes can be applied before the substrate is stretched. This is compatible with existing manufacturing processes. “For example, roll-to-roll printing techniques could be adapted to take advantage of our new method,” Zhu says.

A paper describing the new approach, “Buckling of Aligned Carbon Nanotubes as Stretchable Conductors: A New Manufacturing Strategy,” was published online Jan. 23 in Advanced Materials. The paper was co-authored by Feng Xu, a Ph.D. student at NC State. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

In another new paper, Zhu’s team has demonstrated for the first time that carbon nanotubes can be buckled using a technique in which the elastic substrate is stretched before the nanotubes are applied. The substrate is then relaxed, forcing the nanotubes to buckle out of plane. The nanotubes form a ribbon that curves up and down like the bellows of an accordion. This second technique has been used before with other materials. This second paper, “Wavy Ribbons of Carbon Nanotubes for Stretchable Conductors,” was published Jan. 19 in Advanced Functional Materials.

Matt Shipman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber
20.10.2016 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>