Imagine a metal that can be bent and stretched up to four times its original length. Researchers from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed stretchable electronics from liquid metals. And the elastic material is conductive.
Hard circuits are conventionally difficult to convert into ultra-thin flexible versions. However, this hybrid material consists of a stretchy and flexible polymer film and a layer of a liquid metal alloy (gold and gallium), which provides conductivity. The researchers invented their own structuring method for applying the liquid metal several hundredths of a nanometer thick.
Hard-wearing elastic electronics will provide a lot of fun in tech-embedded clothing, but could also be used to make artificial skin in soft robotics, on-body sensors to monitor health conditions and even be connected to the nervous system for neuro-prosthesis.
Watch the intertwined metals bend, stretch and relax – without breaking:
Stéphanie Lacour, Laboratory for Soft Bioelectronic Interfaces, EPFL