Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A thin ribbon of flexible electronics can monitor health, infrastructure

17.08.2015

A new world of flexible, bendable, even stretchable electronics is emerging from research labs to address a wide range of potentially game-changing uses. The common, rigid printed circuit board is slowly being replaced by a thin ribbon of resilient, high-performance electronics. Over the last few years, one team of chemists and materials scientists has begun exploring military applications in harsh environments for aircraft, explosive devices and even combatants themselves.

Researchers will provide an update on the latest technologies, as well as future research plans, at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS is the world's largest scientific society. The meeting takes place here through Thursday.


Stretchy, bendable electronics could have many uses, such as monitoring patients' health and keeping tabs on airplanes.

Credit: Benjamin Leever, Ph.D.

"Basically, we are using a hybrid technology that mixes traditional electronics with flexible, high-performance electronics and new 3-D printing technologies," says Benjamin J. Leever, Ph.D., who is at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. "In some cases, we incorporate 'inks,' which are based on metals, polymers and organic materials, to tie the system together electronically. With our technology, we can take a razor-thin silicon integrated circuit, a few hundred nanometers thick, and place it on a flexible, bendable or even foldable, plastic-like substrate material," he says.

To allow electronics to be bendable or stretchable or even change their configuration after fabrication, the Wright-Patterson team has turned to liquid gallium alloys as an electrical interconnect material, Leever says. "While these liquid alloys typically oxidize within minutes and become essentially useless," he says, "the team has been able to dramatically reduce the effects of the oxidation through the use of ionic species confined to the walls of microvascular channels within the flexible substrates."

The result is thin, foldable material that allows the circuitry to fit into extremely tight spaces and even to be integrated into complex curved surfaces, such as an airplane's wing, or even a person's skin.

In aircraft applications, Leever explains, the hybrid flexible system can be used to monitor stresses and strains and report this information through miniature embedded antennas to ground crews or a pilot. The researchers also are developing the same approach to monitor pilots' health. This involves a biosensor system that can measure heartbeat, hydration levels, sweat, temperature and other vital signs through miniature circuitry. The system would be embedded on a flexible, wearable patch and would include an antenna to transmit these biometric signals to the pilot or a ground team. The patch will "breathe," bend and stretch, and will provide real-time measurements of metrics that indicate fatigue or potential cognitive problems, Leever notes.

Another military application the Air Force is pursuing is use of a flexible hybrid system in "bunker buster" bombs, which detonate after penetrating deep in the earth. Because of the system's toughness, Leever says, initial testing suggests that the flexible circuitry would remain viable and could detonate the weapon after surviving the initial impact of ground contact after being dropped from aircraft.

In the civilian world, Leever foresees use of flexible systems to monitor the conditions of bridges and other types of infrastructure in real time. He also points to medical applications, such as physical feedback for athletes as they exercise and real-time hospital monitoring for caregivers concerned about changes in a patient's vital signs. This type of monitoring dispenses with the need for the bulky electrodes and wiring that normally are associated with close medical surveillance.

"Overall, the military has the advantage of being able to move ahead with potentially higher risk research," he explains. "Commercial investors want a clear demonstration before making an investment. The military can pursue possibly transformational applications at earlier stages if we see a promising approach to realize and advance a technology's revolutionary potential. When we are successful, the commercial sector directly benefits."

Leever adds that the Wright-Patterson team is part of a newly created Department of Defense-led Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which was announced by President Barack Obama last December. Over the next five years, $75 million will be offered in matching grants to spur domestic development of flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing.

###

A press conference on this topic will be held Monday, Aug. 17, at 1 p.m. Eastern time in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Reporters may check-in at Room 153B in person, or watch live on YouTube http://bit.ly/ACSLiveBoston. To ask questions online, sign in with a Google account.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Note to journalists: Please report that this research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Follow us: Twitter | Facebook

Title

Development of flexible hybrid electronics materials and processes for Air Force applications

Abstract

By combining thinned devices based on inorganic semiconductors with components & interconnects that are 3D printed/additively manufactured on non-traditional substrates, Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) can deliver significant size, weight, and power (SWaP) benefits without sacrificing performance. FHE are expected to impact a range of Air Force applications including: wearable electronics and sensors for monitoring airman health/performance; conformal electronics and antennas for maximizing space efficiency and reducing aerodynamic drag; and inherently more durable circuits that will withstand the extreme strain, shock, and vibration environments typical of Air Force missions.

Related to these goals, we are developing approaches to inject and print gallium-based liquid metal alloys into varied materials for stretchable and reconfigurable electronics. For energy devices we have demonstrated solution-processable approaches to fabricate organic photovoltaic devices on nearly arbitrary surfaces including PET and polymer reinforced polymer composites. We have also fabricated Li-ion batteries based on structurally resilient carbon nanotube-based electrodes that have survived thousands of flexing cycles. The presentation will also discuss the development of silver inks as an interconnect material for flexible Si CMOS ICs on elastomers. Finally, initial molecular dynamics based approaches to model the interaction of inks on various surfaces will also be described.

Media Contact

617-954-3971 (Boston Press Center, Aug. 16-19)

Michael Bernstein
202-872-6042 (D.C. Office)
301-275-3221 (Cell)
m_bernstein@acs.org

Katie Cottingham, Ph.D.
301-775-8455 (Cell)
k_cottingham@acs.org

www.acs.org

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A study demonstrates that p38 protein regulates the formation of new blood vessels
17.07.2019 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht For bacteria, the neighbors co-determine which cell dies first: The physiology of survival
17.07.2019 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

Im Focus: The secret of mushroom colors

Mushrooms: Darker fruiting bodies in cold climates

The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking down climate change with radar eyes

17.07.2019 | Earth Sciences

Researchers build transistor-like gate for quantum information processing -- with qudits

17.07.2019 | Information Technology

A new material for the battery of the future, made in UCLouvain

17.07.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>