Feeds

Boffins get their circuits in a twist

Stretchy, bendy wires promise flexible electronics

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A Baltimore research team has developed a technique for building electrical circuitry that can bend and stretch like rubber. It could be used to make artificial nerves, rubbery needles or wearable electronics.

The researchers used extremely thin gold wire, bent into a wave-like pattern, according to Nature. Thinner wires broke less than thicker ones, so the team sent the current along several parallel wires, each 20 times thinner than a human hair. They found that the spring-like characteristics of this arrangement could cope with levels of twisting or stretching that would destroy normal circuits.

Previously, stretchable conductors have been made by embedding metal particles in a stretchy material. This is of limited use, however, since once the material is stretched, the particles separate at the cost of conductivity. This time, the team made the wires by electroplating gold onto a sheet of silver, surrounding the gold with a stretchy polymer and then stripping the silver away.

Christopher Chen at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, says he can imagine plenty of applications for the technique.

For example, surgeons could attach flexible electrodes to a beating heart to monitor for emerging problems. Bendy wires could be used to make rubbery needles that would be safer and more reliable in the treatment of Parkinsons disease, where doctors insert probes into the sufferer's brain. Wiring like this might also find a place in sports kit which monitors its wearer's performance.

Chen told Nature: "We joke about making electrical devices that you can throw against a wall: instead of breaking they would bounce back at you. But we have no idea if that is possible." ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.