Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanoengineers Develop Basis for Electronics That Stretch at the Molecular Level

09.05.2014

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego are asking what might be possible if semiconductor materials were flexible and stretchable without sacrificing electronic function?

Today’s flexible electronics are already enabling a new generation of wearable sensors and other mobile electronic devices. But these flexible electronics, in which very thin semiconductor materials are applied to a thin, flexible substrate in wavy patterns and then applied to a deformable surface such as skin or fabric, are still built around hard composite materials that limit their elasticity.

Writing in the journal Chemistry of Materials, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering professor Darren Lipomi reports on several new discoveries by his team that could lead to electronics that are “molecularly stretchable.”

Lipomi compared the difference between flexible and stretchable electronics to what would happen if you tried to wrap a basketball with either a sheet of paper or a thin sheet of rubber. The paper would wrinkle, while the rubber would conform to the surface of the ball.

“We are developing the design rules for a new generation of plastic--or, better, rubber--electronics for applications in energy, biomedical devices, wearable and conformable devices for defense applications, and for consumer electronics,” said Lipomi. “We are taking these design rules and doing wet chemistry in the lab to make new semiconducting rubber materials.”

While flexible electronics based on thin-film semiconductors are nearing commercialization, stretchable electronic materials and devices are in their infancy. Stretchable electronic materials would be conformable to non-planar surfaces without wrinkling and could be integrated with the moving parts of machines and the body in a way that materials exhibiting only flexibility could not be. For example, one of the chief applications envisioned by Lipomi is a low cost “solar tarp” that can be folded up for packaging and stretched back out to supply low cost energy to rural villages, disaster relief operations and the military operating in remote locations. Another long-term goal of the Lipomi lab is to produce electronic polymers whose properties--extreme elasticity, biodegradability, and self-repair--are inspired by biological tissue for applications in implantable biomedical devices and prosthetics.

Lipomi has been studying why the molecular structures of these "rubber" semiconductors cause some to be more elastic than others. In one project published recently in the journal Macromolecules, the Lipomi lab discovered that polymers with strings of seven carbon atoms attached produce exactly the right balance of stretchability and functionality. That balance is key to producing devices that are “flexible, stretchable, collapsible and fracture proof.”

Lipomi’s team has also created a high-performance, “low-bandgap” elastic semiconducting polymer using a new synthetic strategy the team invented. Solid polymers are partially crystalline, which gives them good electrical properties, but also makes the polymer material stiff and brittle. By introducing randomness in the molecular structure of the polymer, Lipomi’s lab increased its elasticity by a factor of two without decreasing the electronic performance of the material. Their discovery, published in RSC Advances, is also useful for applications in stretchable and ultra-flexible devices.

Catherine Hockmuth | newswise
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Flexible OLED applications arrive
28.06.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

nachricht Energy from Sunlight: Further Steps towards Artificial Photosynthesis
24.06.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Optical lenses, hardly larger than a human hair

3D printing enables the smalles complex micro-objectives

3D printing revolutionized the manufacturing of complex shapes in the last few years. Using additive depositing of materials, where individual dots or lines...

Im Focus: Flexible OLED applications arrive

R2D2, a joint project to analyze and development high-TRL processes and technologies for manufacture of flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been successfully completed.

In contrast to point light sources like LEDs made of inorganic semiconductor crystals, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are light-emitting surfaces. Their...

Im Focus: Unexpected flexibility found in odorant molecules

High resolution rotational spectroscopy reveals an unprecedented number of conformations of an odorant molecule – a new world record!

In a recent publication in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter...

Im Focus: 3-D printing produces cartilage from strands of bioink

Strands of cow cartilage substitute for ink in a 3D bioprinting process that may one day create cartilage patches for worn out joints, according to a team of engineers. "Our goal is to create tissue that can be used to replace large amounts of worn out tissue or design patches," said Ibrahim T. Ozbolat, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics. "Those who have osteoarthritis in their joints suffer a lot. We need a new alternative treatment for this."

Cartilage is a good tissue to target for scale-up bioprinting because it is made up of only one cell type and has no blood vessels within the tissue. It is...

Im Focus: First experimental quantum simulation of particle physics phenomena

Physicists in Innsbruck have realized the first quantum simulation of lattice gauge theories, building a bridge between high-energy theory and atomic physics. In the journal Nature, Rainer Blatt‘s and Peter Zoller’s research teams describe how they simulated the creation of elementary particle pairs out of the vacuum by using a quantum computer.

Elementary particles are the fundamental buildings blocks of matter, and their properties are described by the Standard Model of particle physics. The...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Conference ‘GEO BON’ Wants to Close Knowledge Gaps in Global Biodiversity

28.06.2016 | Event News

ERES 2016: The largest conference in the European real estate industry

09.06.2016 | Event News

Networking 4.0: International Laser Technology Congress AKL’16 Shows New Ways of Cooperations

24.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Building a better battery

29.06.2016 | Life Sciences

New way out: Researchers show how stem cells exit bloodstream

29.06.2016 | Life Sciences

Crucial peatlands carbon-sink vulnerable to rising sea levels

29.06.2016 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>