Stretchable circuits have the advantage that they also work in textiles such as clothing. However, their production is considered to be very costly. A new, simplified process has now been presented by two computer scientists from Saarland University. It is based on a so-called laser cutter and its precise, fast cuts. These are provided by easy-to-use software developed by Daniel Gröger and Professor Jürgen Steimle for designers. Since the necessary materials are available on the market, almost any person can now produce stretchable electronics for their own purposes.
A jacket that silences incoming calls when its sleeve is plucked. A bandage that sounds an alarm when the joint is bent too much. These are two of many applications that are only possible with stretchable circuits.
"However, current manufacturing processes are time-consuming and very complex," explains Daniel Gröger, a doctoral student in computer science at Saarland University. Hence, together with Professor Jürgen Steimle, Gröger has developed a process to produce stretchable circuits within a few minutes. The heart of the process is a so-called laser cutter.
Its laser beam continuously removes targeted material. In this way, it makes many precise cuts in a very short time. The researchers take advantage of this by having the laser cut a certain pattern into the material, similar to a Y shape. The size of the pattern, the thickness of its lines and the distance between the cuts determine the elasticity of the material.
The material consists of a conductive and a non-conductive layer. The circuit is created by the laser ablating the conductive layer at pre-defined points during cutting.
Since it is not only fast, accurate cutting that difficult for humans, but also the planning of where to cut, the researchers have automated that, too. The result is software allowing designers to specify the outline of the piece, similar to a drawing program, and determine which part of it should be stretchable. They determine the degree of elasticity using a virtual slider. Finally, they place the electronic components.
The software then calculates the position and nature of the Y shapes, including the circuit diagram, and displays everything. The fast result is unusual, because the calculation of the best ladder route so far has required a lot of computing time and power. The researchers, however, have devised a shortcut by presenting the calculation problem as a graph, for which efficient calculation is possible.
In this way, the researchers produced three prototypes, each taking less than five minutes. The first is a transparent bracelet with a light-emitting diode. On its side is a tab, similar to the rotating wheel on the side of a watch. Pulling on either the strap or on the tab switches the light emitting diode on and off. This fulfills the basic functionality of a stopwatch, says Gröger. Pulling the strap corresponds to starting and stopping.
If you pull the wristband, the time measurement starts again. The other two prototypes are a flexible controller for computer games and a sensor that is integrated into an elbow bandage and measures the degree of diffraction. The materials used, such as plastic foils coated with indium tin oxide, are available online.
Gröger therefore believes that the new process also enables people who are not familiar with materials research to create stretchable circuits. The researchers point out that the current test models can withstand at least thousand strains, but this does not yet meet commercial quality criteria for durability. Nevertheless, Gröger is convinced: "Even if the technology still has to be improved, the concepts will hold".
The scientists financed their research with funds from the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union and with funds from the Cluster of Excellence for Multimodal Computing and Interaction.
Press picture: www.uni-saarland.de/pressefotos
Competence Center Computer Science Saarland
Saarland Informatics Campus E1.7
Phone: +49 681 302-70741
Human Computer Interaction
Saarland Informatics Campus E1.7
Phone: +49 681 302 71931
Friederike Meyer zu Tittingdorf | Universität des Saarlandes
Theoretical tubulanes inspire ultrahard polymers
14.11.2019 | Rice University
New spin directions in pyrite an encouraging sign for future spintronics
14.11.2019 | ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies
The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.
New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...
If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.
Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...
Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...
In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.
An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...
05.11.2019 | Event News
30.10.2019 | Event News
02.10.2019 | Event News
14.11.2019 | Materials Sciences
14.11.2019 | Health and Medicine
14.11.2019 | Materials Sciences