ARGONNE, Ill., April 3 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists are developing flexible electronic structures with the potential to bend, expand and manipulate electronic devices.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Illinois said such flexible structures could find applications as sensors and as electronic devices that can be integrated into artificial muscles or biological tissues.
In addition to a biomedical impact, flexible electronics are important for energy technology as flexible and accurate sensors for hydrogen.
The structures are being developed from a concept created by Argonne scientist Yugang Sun and a team of University of Illinois researchers led by John Rogers.
"The objective of our work was to generate a concept along with subsequent technology that would allow for electronic wires and circuits to stretch like rubber bands and accordions leading to sensor-embedded covers for aircraft and robots, and even prosthetic skin for humans," said Sun. "We are presently developing stretchable electronics and sensors for smart surgical gloves and hemispherical electronic eye imagers."
The team has fabricated ribbons of silicon, designing them to bend, stretch and compress without losing functionality. That research appeared in the Journal of Materials Chemistry and is available at rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/JM/article.asp?doi=b614793c.