New Rubber Like Material For Electronics

Defying popular perception of electronic devices whose conductive properties are efficient, scientists from the EPFL or école polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne have demonstrated that they need not be rigid and thick as a matter of necessity through the development of electronics that have conductive properties yet is highly flexible and may stretch up to four times its original length.

Particularly the scientists were able to create a conductor that may be stretched and is composed of components that are both liquids as well as solids. Its formation took place when gallium vapor was included in covering of alloy metal.

According to the authors this innovative approach towards deposition of pattern liquid metals leads to multilayered, robust and soft sensors, circuits as well as actuators.

Despite being as flexible as rubber this material retains the properties of thinness and efficiency. This posed a long standing challenge for science that is to say creating electronic circuits that are elastic as the constituting elements are generally stiff. To solve this problem researchers at the EPFL thought of incorporating metal in its liquid form to a film that is thin within a polymer that is elastic in nature.

This resulted in a flexible conductor that is like rubber which stretchable up to four times of the original length of the material. This may be pulled in all of the directions without cracking or losing its conductivity even after it is stretched to a million times.

In most experiments till yet the surface tension of the metal in liquid form is unusually high. The major number of the products that result are thick. But this breakthrough material lets researchers create tracks that are efficient yet very thin.

The Main Components

The main ingredient that holds the secret for the innovative conductive electronic are an alloy of gold and gallium.

As a particular researcher pointed out gallium possesses two properties that are absolutely vital- characteristics of electrical devices that are up to the mark if not excellent. It also has a low melting point that hovers around the 30°Celcius mark. With regards to this respect gallium melts pretty easily and does not change its state from liquid at temperatures found in rooms through a process stated to be supercooling.

Similarly Gold too plays a pivotal role in its homogenous nature staying intact even in the contact of polymers, something that could damage the conductivity of materials.

Applications

The applications are wide and varied for such conductive electronics when you consider the facts that it may be used to synthesize circuits that may be twisted and stretched.

The conductor may be put in to use in prosthesis of artificial skin or even robots. It may also be used for monitoring particular biological functions considering that it lends itself easily to follow the human body’s shape. 
The uses may be of various sorts and the form may be moving, complex, or one that changes with time according to the author of the study Hadrien Michaud.

The study found its way in to the larger world through the journal called Advanced Materials in the edition published on the 29th of February of this year.

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