Robots, prosthetic limbs and touchscreen displays could all end up utilizing technology recently developed at California’s Stanford University. A team led by Zhenan Bao, an associate professor of chemical engineering, has created a very stretchy skin-like pressure-sensitive material that can detect everything from a finger-pinch to over twice the pressure that would be exerted by an elephant standing on one foot. The sensitivity of the material is attained through two layers of carbon nanotubes, that act like a series of tiny springs.
While there have been some intriguing developments recently in the field of stretchable electronics
and flexible OLED displays
, one thing we haven't heard much about is stretchable displays
. So, is it possible to make a screened device in which every part of it could be stretched? The answer could now be yes, with news that researchers from UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have demonstrated a stretchable polymer light-emitting device.
When a patient has an arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat), cardiologists will often treat the disorder by inserting two tube-like catheters into the patient’s heart. The first catheter is used for mapping out the heart tissue, identifying the location of cells that are causing the arrhythmia. The second catheter, which has an electrode on the end, is then directed to those locations, where it kills the aberrant cells in a process known as ablation. Scientists have recently developed a single catheter with added stretchable electronics
, however, that does both jobs in one step.
Stretchability is not something you'd think of as synonymous with electronics. For this very reason the realm of wearable electronic devices has been limited to devices on clothes
with rigid or at best semi-flexible circuit boards or solar panels
that can do just about everything except make a decent espresso. The game is about to change with the introduction of a silicon nanowire with elastic properties that could enable the incorporation of stretchable electronic devices into clothing, implantable health-monitoring devices, and a host of other applications.
Wrinkling, blisters and delamination on stickers applied to curved or bendable surfaces are usually an annoyance, but examining this phenomena has led researchers to a new, powerful approach to fabricating stretchable electronics that could pave the way to the production of components with very high mechanical resistance.
January 26, 2009 Three university engineering professors have collaborated to develop a new design for stretchable electronics that can be wrapped around complex shapes, without a reduction in electronic function. The new mechanical design strategy is based on semiconductor nanomaterials that can offer high stretchability (up to140%) and large twistability such as corkscrew twists with tight pitch (e.g., 90 degrees in 1cm). Potential uses for the new design include electronic devices for eye cameras, smart surgical gloves, body parts, airplane wings, back planes for liquid crystal displays and biomedical devises.