Researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have successfully developed circuitry that can bend and stretch up to four times its original size.
While circuits today are typically printed onto a rigid board, these limber electronics can easily conform to a person’s body shape and movement, making them useful for anything from designing biological sensors for your skin to smart clothing.
The technology coats liquid metal with a flexible polymer to create an elastic circuit capable of conducting electricity. EPFL researchers even say it can withstand over a million stretches before cracking or losing its electric properties.
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While the flexible conductive tracks being experimented on are relatively large, Stéphanie Lacour, who runs the Soft Bioelectric Interfaces Lab at the EPFL, says miniaturizing the tech is well within reach.
“Using the deposition and structuring methods that we developed, it’s possible to make tracks that are very narrow – several hundredths of a nanometer thick – and very reliable,” Lacour said.
Not only does this mean that wearable tech could become a lot more comfortable (circuit boards tend to not feel so great against human skin) but also more durable. Couple this tech with curved screens, and you might just be looking at the future of portable devices.