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Northwestern Researchers Create ''Rubber-Band Electronics''

By - Source: Nature Communications | B 11 comments

A team of researchers claims to have found a way to make electronic devices far more stretchable than they are today.

Compared to the 50 percent stretchability than can be achieved today with compromises on conductivity, the researchers' new technology can stretch by more than 200 percent and retain "excellent" conductivity.

The finding could lead to products using electronics commonly often referred to as rubber-band electronics that are especially desirable in the medical field.

“With current technology, electronics are able to stretch a small amount, but many potential applications require a device to stretch like a rubber band,” said Yonggang Huang of Northwestern University, who conducted the research with partners at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Dalian University of Technology in China, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “With that level of stretchability we could see medical devices integrated into the human body.”

Huang's technology is based on highly porous three-dimensional structure using polydimethylsiloxane, short PDMS, which can stretch two to three times its original size. Eletrical conductivity was added with a liquid metal, Eutectic Gallium-Indium (EGaIn).

“By combining a liquid metal in a porous polymer, we achieved 200 percent stretchability in a material that does not suffer from stretch,” Huang said. “Once you achieve that technology, any electronic can behave like a rubber band.”

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  • 7 Hide
    A Bad Day , July 5, 2012 12:11 AM
    The question is, can they survive the patent sharks?
  • 4 Hide
    fb39ca4 , July 5, 2012 12:46 AM
    Yay so we can see rugged laptops that bounce instead of shatter when dropped.
  • 9 Hide
    spiketheaardvark , July 5, 2012 1:59 AM
    They make something out of some fancy silicate and liquid heavy metals and their first thought is "hey this would be great to put in the human body"?

    On the other hand this stuff could replace the elastic in your underwear and it could email you every time your waist expands.
  • 4 Hide
    livebriand , July 5, 2012 2:56 AM
    Unfortunately, it seems like these kinds of innovations always disappear down a black hole and are never heard of again.
  • 0 Hide
    s3anister , July 5, 2012 3:47 AM
    A Bad DayThe question is, can they survive the patent sharks?

    I don't think it's so much an issue of patents as it is about advancing technology. Regardless, it doesn't sound like there is a patent for what they're doing and if there is one, they (the researchers) are probably waiting for it to be approved.
  • 1 Hide
    A Bad Day , July 5, 2012 4:06 AM
    s3anisterI don't think it's so much an issue of patents as it is about advancing technology. Regardless, it doesn't sound like there is a patent for what they're doing and if there is one, they (the researchers) are probably waiting for it to be approved.


    As of now, patents can be stretched just like rubber bands to cover essentially everything.
  • -2 Hide
    Zingam_Duo , July 5, 2012 6:36 AM
    Chinese -> hardware engineers
    Indians -> software
    White people -> lawyers or victims of lawyers

    :D 
  • 0 Hide
    CaedenV , July 5, 2012 11:37 AM
    news report:
    Man dies of heavy metal poisoning when office rubber-band fight takes a dark turn....
  • 1 Hide
    freggo , July 5, 2012 2:33 PM
    Zingam_DuoChinese -> hardware engineersIndians -> softwareWhite people -> lawyers or victims of lawyers


    Let me correct that for you...

    Chinese -> hardware engineers
    Indians -> software
    White US Americans -> lawyers or victims of lawyers


  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , July 5, 2012 3:23 PM
    I'm surprised to hear that we have even achieved 50% stretchability.
  • 0 Hide
    _Cosmin_ , July 5, 2012 7:37 PM
    One step closer to TX1000 !