Stretchy 'bucky-gel' promises touchscreen video-stockings
Interactive nano-Spandex iPants for all
Japanese boffins have developed a material which they believe could be used to make stretchy, highly flexible electronic circuitry. It goes almost without saying that their elasto-conductor miracle sheet is based on fashionable carbon nanotubes.
Science Magazine brings us the scoop on the rubbery circuitboard breakthrough. According to the report, one makes the stretchy conductor sheet by first mixing up nanotubes with ionic liquid to produce "bucky gel*", and then mixing this with polymer before spreading it out flat and drying it. Once dry, the flexibility is increased by making lots of tiny holes in the resulting sheet.
The end result, seemingly, is a flexible, elastic, porous material "like a woman's nylon stocking". The designers, led by Tokyo Uni engineering brainbox Takao Someya, say it is four times as stretchy as anything conductive, and a hundred times as conductive as anything stretchy. Someya and his colleague Tsuyoshi Sekitani have previously collaborated on similarly flexy pressure sensors.
The boffins reckon that bucky-gel elasto circuitry would be a tip-top replacement for today's rigid boards in many applications. It might be combined with flexible display and pressure-sensor tech to produce roll-up computers, TVs and so forth. Such equipment could be incorporated into clothing, for instance, producing truly wearable computing. Given that Reuters quotes Sekitani as saying that the kit would be excellent for use on "curved surfaces and movable parts", and the stuff already resembles stockings, it seems that the day of the long-sought interactive touchscreen tights - or at any rate, video stretchpants - may be at hand.
Marvellous what they can do nowadays, etc. ®
*As in Buckminster Fuller, the man behind the geodesic dome climbing frames once popular in playgrounds. Spherical carbon molecules are named "buckyballs", as they are thought to have the same kind of structure, and the whole class of mad molecules are called fullerenes, including the increasingly trendy nano-tubular ones.
Bucky O'Hare? So instead of worrying about ROTM it'll be Rise of the Toad Empire?
I want wearable computing. I enjoy being away from the computer, but there are some aspects I'd like to take with me. As we get more and more access to wireless and handy tools like google maps, there are more reasons why I'd want a computer with me. I'd love to be able to glance at my wrist and get a map of the nearby streets along with my location.
As I don't like mobile phones (and people tend to carry those with them everywhere) a mobile computer with my IM on it would be quite handy.
I considered building myself a wearable computer, but wanted an interface that only required one hand to use, and couldn't figure out a method to make a chording keyboard and a hands-free mouse that wouldn't cost me a fortune. Certainly too expensive for a side project.
Another electronocon gadget
But will anybody really want it? I suppose stretchy mobos will be more break resistant, though.
"or at any rate, video stretchpants"
"You lookin' at my ass?"
"Yes, it's showing the trailer for the new James Bond film"
"What do you think?"
"Some films were just made for widescreen" <SLAP!>