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Super stretchy electronics dielectrics and conductors that stretch like a rubber band

Super stretchy electronics dielectrics and conductors that stretch like a rubber band

A combination of  poly (dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS), a porous polymer, and an Eutectic Gallium-Indium ("EGaln") metal mixture that is far more "stretchy" than its predecessors, capable of being deformed to more than 200% (twice) its original size, without breaking or losing its operational efficiency, has been invented at Northwestern University. The researchers created specialized dielectrics and conductors from the new material.  Using these two fundamental circuit building blocks, the team hopes to build super-stretchy circuits before long. Civil and environmental engineering professor Yonggang Huang believes his new material overcomes a crippling 100x reduction to conductivity in rival materials when stretched. With current technology, electronics are able to stretch a small amount, but many potential applications require a device to stretch like a rubber band. With that level of stretchability we could see medical devices integrated into the human body. By combining a liquid metal in a porous polymer, we achieved 200% stretchability in a material that does not suffer from stretch. Once you achieve that technology, any electronic can behave like a rubber band." The material has tremendous potential for in-body microelectronics, sensors, and wearable electronic devices, assuming that it can be produced affordably.
Huang, Joseph Cummings Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, noted that by using the existing technology, electronics are stretched to only a small amount. However, several potential applications need a device that bends and stretches like a rubber band. This level of stretchability can enable integration of medical monitoring devices into the human body. Huang conducted the research along with the scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dalian University of Technology in China; and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea for the past five years. They have developed electronic devices with approximately 50% stretchability, which is not sufficient for several applications. A conductivity loss in stretchable electronics is one of the challenges faced by the team. Electronic circuits produced from solid metals can resist a small amount of stretch, whereas their electrical conductivity decreases by 100 times when they are stretched.

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