At the University of Wisconsin-Madison important work is being done developing high speed, stretchable integrated electronic circuits that could be used for biomedical applications. Consisting of tiny twisted-pair wires, similar to the arrangement of wires inside of Ethernet cables, the team’s devices can be pulled on without degrading the electric signals flowing within while being shielded from external interference.
The power lines are only .64 millimeters wide while supporting frequencies up to 40 GHz, making them capable of transmitting microwave signals and eventually being compatible with the coming 5G wireless standard. This will allow the technology to be integrated within skin-worn wearables and other devices that can talk directly to other systems via 5G cellular networks.
From the study abstract in Advanced Functional Materials:
Detailed analysis, simulations, and experimental results show that the stretchable transmission line has negligible changes in performance when stretched and is operable on skin through suppressed radiated emission achieved with the twisted-pair geometry. Furthermore, stretchable microwave low-pass filter and band-stop filter are demonstrated using the twisted-pair structure to show the feasibility of the transmission lines as stretchable passive components. These concepts form the basic elements used in the design of stretchable microwave components, circuits, and subsystems performing important radio frequency functionalities, which can apply to many types of stretchable bioelectronics for radio transmitters and receivers.
Paper in Advanced Functional Materials: Stretchable Twisted-Pair Transmission Lines for Microwave Frequency Wearable Electronics