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Volume 91 Issue 30 | p. 28 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 29, 2013

New Flexible Electronic Sensor Is Lightest And Thinnest Yet

Bendable device, one-thirtieth the weight of a piece of paper, might monitor patients’ health one day
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Materials SCENE
Keywords: flexible electronics, electronic skin, transistor array, health care
In this clip, researchers at the University of Tokyo discuss the capabilities and demonstrate the properties of their new ultrathin, flexible electronic circuits, floating them through the air and wadding them into a ball.
Credit: Someya-Sekitani Group/U of Tokyo
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A new flexible electronic “foil” can withstand being crumpled into a ball without losing function.
Credit: Nature
09130-scicon-crumpledelectroniccxd
 
A new flexible electronic “foil” can withstand being crumpled into a ball without losing function.
Credit: Nature

Flexible electronics that adhere to patients’ bodies and monitor health or form touch-sensitive robot “skin” have long been on scientists’ wish lists. Some bendable circuits, fabricated on thin polymer or steel sheets, have materialized in recent years. But a brand-new version is thinner and more lightweight than ever before. Siegfried Bauer of Johannes Kepler University, in Austria; Martin Kaltenbrunner and Takao Someya of the University of Tokyo; and colleagues designed the record-breaking device, which is one-fifth the thickness of plastic kitchen wrap and one-thirtieth the weight of a sheet of office paper (Nature 2013, DOI: 10.1038/nature12314). To make the bendable circuit, the team began with a 1-µm-thick polyethylene naphthalate “foil” and added to it an insulating layer of aluminum oxide. Because the foil has a rough surface, the team developed a room-temperature electrochemical process for depositing the oxide film onto it uniformly. After further surface treatment, the researchers laid down arrays of organic-semiconductor-based transistors and gold resistor pads. When stuck to a person’s skin, the flexible sheet can detect pressure changes. And it’s so bendable that it can be crumpled into a ball without losing function.

[+]Enlarge
A new flexible electronic “foil” is lighter than a feather.
Credit: Someya-Sekitani Group/U of Tokyo
09130-scicon-featherweightelectronicxd
 
A new flexible electronic “foil” is lighter than a feather.
Credit: Someya-Sekitani Group/U of Tokyo

 

 

 
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