Researchers at the University of Michigan have created the first stretchable integrated circuit, made from inkjet printer.
There are numerous things that this curcuit can be the basis for. A stretchable tablet that goes from small to extra large size or a rubber band wrist monitor that measures your heartbeat.
It was developed in a lab by Chuan Wang, a assistant professors of computer and electrical engineering. Because the material can be created on a printer, it is far cheaper than other alternatives currently on the market.
“We can conceivably make the costs of producing flexible electronics comparable to the costs of printing newspapers,” said Wang. “Our work could soon lead to printed displays that can easily be stretched to larger sizes, as well as wearable electronics and soft robotics applications.”
The stretchable fabric is made from a couple of components – nanomaterials and organic compounds. Then they dissolved into different inks and run through the printer to create the fascinating fabric.
The professor and his team has created the fabric, curcuit and the organic light emitting diode (OLED). After this they must combine the circuit and the OLED to create a single pixel. They estimate it will take them a year or two and then the commercialization of it can start.
The electronic stretchable fabric can be put in your pocket without breaking, giving it a big advantage over other “flexible” electronics that can not be folded.
“We have created a new technology that is not yet available.”- professor Wang said.
“And we have taken it one big step beyond the flexible screens that are about to become commercially available.”