Machine Design

Electronics that bend and stretch

Engineers have long been looking for ways to make electronic devices that bend, stretch, and expand to use as sensors for artificial muscles.

Electronics that bend and stretch

Curved ribbons of semiconductor material on a surface of polydimethylsiloxane can be stretched without losing their electrical properties.

A team of engineers at Argonne National Laboratory is exploring the use of flexible nanoribbons of single-crystalline semiconductor materials. This is a distinct change from the approach taken by others, which is to use plastics-based conducting liquids printed on bendable surfaces.

So far, they have developed thin silicon ribbons that bend, stretch, and compress without losing their electrical properties.

"The objective is to generate a concept, along with the technology, that would let electronic wires and circuits stretch like rubber bands and accordions, leading to sensor-embedded skins for aircraft and robots, and even prosthetic skin for humans," says lead scientist Yugan Sun.


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