We’ve been reporting on the development of flexible electronics in the last few years as the industry has took off and the technology is already being utilized in medical devices. Yet, the flexibility of these electronic components relies in large part on creating squiggly metal wires that can flex and compress. The material isn’t truly flexible at its core, which limits its capabilities. Researchers at University of California, San Diego believe they are on the way to developing truly flexible electronic components that maintain their electrical properties even when severely deformed.
In their study for journal Chemistry of Materials, the team addresses the limitation of using flexible substrates on which to house the electronics. These substrates, while flexible, don’t stretch well and demonstrate their shortcomings when applied to a curved surface like a ball. Using rubber as a semiconducting material that can easily wrap around moving, flexible objects without wrinkling is the approach they are taking.
From the abstract in Chemistry of Materials:
Our principal conclusion is that while the field of plastic electronics has achieved impressive gains in the last several years in terms of electronic performance, all semiconducting polymers are not equally “plastic” in the sense of “deformable,” and thus materials tested on glass substrates may fail in the real world and may not be amenable to stretchable—or even modestly flexible—systems. The goal of this Perspective is to draw attention to the ways in which organic conductors and semiconductors specifically designed to accommodate large strains can enable highly deformable devices, which embody the original vision of organic electronics.
Study in Chemistry of Materials: Molecularly Stretchable Electronics…