Porous Polymer Plus Liquid Metal Equals Stretchable ElectronicsCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: July 3, 2012 05:54AM
One thing that inhibits electronics from entering areas like clothing and even the human body is its rigidity. Bend a circuit board too much, and it breaks. Researchers have tried to create stretchable electronics, but often these can suffer from a dramatic loss of conductivity when stretched too far. Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University have devised a new kind of stretchable electronics that can stretch four times further than others, before breaking.
To create the device which can stretch past double its original size, the researchers used a porous and flexible polymer called poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) and filled it with a liquid metal, (EGaIn). Like other metals, EGaIn will conduct electricity, but it is a liquid at room temperature and within the polymer. Stretching the device does not risk breaking connections, in the traditional sense, as the liquid can flow to fill the channels as needed.
This could strongly impact medicine by providing an easier means to implant electronic devices into the human body. It may be awhile before we see those new devices though, but I'm sure many researchers are hard at work to bring them to reality.