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 Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion
24.07.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot
21.07.2017 | Stanford University

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: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion

24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>