New research demonstrates the development of the first stretchable integrated circuit, made entirely using an inkjet printer.
The team behind this research believes this development could lead to the manufacturing of inexpensive “smart fabric.” Potential applications include wallpaper that can turn an entire wall into an electronic display and electronics that could be scaled up and down easily.
“We can conceivably make the costs of producing flexible electronics comparable to the costs of printing newspapers,” says Chuan Wang, co-author of the paper and former ECS member. “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.”
This from Michigan State University:
The smart fabric is made up of several materials fabricated from nanomaterials and organic compounds. These compounds are dissolved in solution to produce different electronic inks, which are run through the printer to make the devices.
From the ink, Wang and his team have successfully created the elastic material, the circuit and the organic light-emitting diode, or OLED. The next step is combining the circuit and OLED into a single pixel, which Wang estimates will take one to two years. There are generally millions of pixels just underneath the screen of a smart tablet or a large display.
“We have created a new technology that is not yet available,” Wang says. “And we have taken it one big step beyond the flexible screens that are about to become commercially available.”