Elastic Conductor Developed with Silver NanowiresCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: July 16, 2012 08:12PM
One way to reduce the price of electronics is to change the method of production. One potentially promising method is similar to printing where rolls of the needed materials are just run off and pressed together as needed. This method has great scalability but requires the materials being worked with are flexible. Sadly many electronics are rigid and fragile too, so researchers have been working to find elastic and flexible materials, including those at North Carolina State University.
Using highly conductive and flexible silver nanowires the researchers created a flexible conductor by pouring a liquid polymer over the wires. The polymer is then heated, to make it an elastic solid, with the nanowires held within. The solid polymer is then stretched, which causes the surface with the nanowires to buckle, which creates a wavy pattern, while the other side remains flat. This buckling allows the material to be stretched to up to 50% of its elongation without impairing the silver's conductivity.
Flexible conductors like this may be able to do more than just be printed off at low cost. By enabling flexible electronics, we may see electronic skin made for robots and other devices. Such skin could be used to give a robot a sense of touch, which will be invaluable if the robot has to work with fragile objects.