Super-stretchable metallic interconnects promise wearable advances
According to the researchers, their results exceed the linear strain results previously reported, and were achieved without the use of any geometrical manipulations or porous substrates. The finding could pave the way to significant advances in flexible electronic applications, such as bendable batteries, connected fabrics, robotic "skins," and wearable devices.
Currently, flexible electronics are achieved using metal springs that can stretch while still maintaining conductivity. Springs however require extra space compared to other conductors, increase electrical impedance, and complicate the design of complex, high-density circuits.
The key to the WSU researchers’ success was the use of an Indium metal film over a silicone elastomer. Previous attempts experimenting with copper have shown severe cracking when stretched about 30%, while more ductile metals like gold are considered cost prohibitive for real-world applications.
The researchers note that the methods they used to achieve their results are compatible with the processes currently used in the electronics industry. For more, see the article in the journal Applied Physics Letters: "Super-stretchable metallic interconnects on polymer with a linear strain of up to 100%."
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