Right now, even if your phone is protected from knicks and scratches if you drop it, the insides of all electronics are still rigid and fragile. However, in the future, with stretchy electronic components, your phone or whatever could circuits and circuit boards that don’t mind getting twisted, stretched and pulled.
At Northwestern University, researchers there have come up with electronics that can be stretched 200% and still work.
The hardest part about making electronics that flex and stretch is keeping all the conductive pathways linked up. We’ve seen lots of things that can bend and twist, but that’s all stuff that you can do with wires while maintaining their dimensions. What you can’t do with wires is stretch them out and the shrink them back again while maintaining efficient conductivity, but researchers at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering have solved this wiring problem by using liquid metal instead.
The researchers first created a highly porous three dimensional structure out of a rubbery substance that can be stretched to 300% of its original size and then spring back. Then, they filled the inside of the rubbery thing with a conductive liquid metal, resulting in a structure that can be stretched to make it 200% longer while still being entirely conductive. Plus, it can be stretched and released over 10,000 times without losing any conductivity at all.
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