A group of military chemists and scientists are developing ways to embed electronics into flexible, bendable, and stretchable materials.

According to a press release, so far the research team has figured out how to cram a circuit board onto a thin ribbon of flexible silicon.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Leever, Ph.D.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Leever, Ph.D.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Ph.D. Benjamin J. Leever explained,” Basically, we are using a hybrid technology that mixes traditional electronics with flexible, high-performance electronics and new 3-D printing technologies.”

Leever noted that applications include using inks made of metals, polymers, and organic materials. ” With our technology, we can take a razor-thin silicon integrated circuit, a few hundred nanometers thick, and place it on a flexible, bendable or even foldable, plastic-like substrate material,” he said.

Using liquid gallium alloys and ionic species, the research team has created thin, foldable material that allows the circuitry to fit into very tight spaces. It can actually be molded to a variety of shapes, including forming to a person’s skin.

Right now, the team is focusing on military applications, but this technology could have potential in other fields. For example, Leever notes it could be used to monitor the condition of bridges or provide feedback on athletic activities.

Once the technology becomes commercially available, it could be used for a plethora of game-changing devices. We are already seeing flexible materials in other wearable applications. Combined with this technology, it could be possible for you to have an entire smartphone or tablet roll up into a ball without causing damage.

via TechCrunch

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