A research team at the University of Stanford led by Zhenan Bao recently developed a thin-film made of polymer semiconductors that is stretchable and self-healing. The film could be used in wearable electronics and for medical devices, such as an e-skin. Instead of focusing on a structure that could withstand strain, the team researched materials that were inherently stretchy, like semiconductors made from polymers.
“When the polymer is strained, the intermolecular hydrogen bonds are broken, which has the effect of dissipating the strain energy in the material,” Simon Rondeau-Gagne, team member, said in the article. “This prevents the polymer network from being disrupted (so preventing damage to it). And, although the material cracks when severely elongated, these cracks can be almost completely healed by applying solvent vapor and heat.”
Though the new transistors currently use too high of a voltage to be practical for use on human skin, the team believes this new development is a large step toward flexible electronics that behave like human skin. The team’s research has recently been published in Nature.
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