Engineers at Stanford have created a flexible transistor that can be stretched to double its original length without losing much of its conductivity. A team of researchers has developed a new component to help stretch the potential of wearable electronics. Most semiconductor material is made of silicon, which is rigid and usually breaks before stretching enough.
A team of researchers of Chemical Engineering fabricated an organic semiconducting film that is stretchable but maintains conductivity. It deforms thanks to a technique called nanoconfinement, that uses a conductive polymers which are trapped inside a rubbery polymer matrix at the nanoscale, allowing them to bend without breaking. This technique is scalable to the device level and less expensive to produce than traditional approach. It is because the two polymers don’t mix with each other, leading the conductive polymers to automatically form thin bundles within the rubbery matrix.
A researcher demonstrates the efficacy of a flexible transistor, as it is stretched, twisted and poked. This material relates to a paper that appeared in the Jan. 6, 2017, issue of Science, published by AAAS. The paper, by J. Xu at Stanford University School of Engineering in Stanford, Calif., and colleagues was titled, “Highly stretchable polymer semiconductor films through the nanoconfinement effect.” Credit: J. Xu et al., Science (2016)
During the testing, there were no visible cracks in the film, even after stretching it 100 times, the current continues to flow when poked with a sharp object. Combining stretchy transistors with other components could easily form flexible wearable electronics. In the nearest future we might see in tiny flexible batteries and flexible LED fibers worn over the skin.
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