Flexible electronics are the coming wave of technological gizmos. At some point, our modern cell phones will seem just as clunky as the first generation brick-sized phones, and our clothing will keep track of our health. Eventually, we may end up with flexible tech we don’t even need to carry.
In cooperation with the Johannes Kepler University, University of Tokyo scientists have developed a flexible sensor thinner than plastic wrap and lighter than a feather. The scientists refer to their breakthrough as “imperceptible electronics,” but we may well come to know it as e-skin. When a patch of the material to fastened to the human body, researchers claim it is all but impossible to notice.
Along with providing a touch sensor type system, the imperceptible electronics could also be used to monitor the health of a patient, embedded as part of a prosthetic to provide feedback, and possibly form the basis for robotic skin in the future. The material is nearly indestructible, being bendable, crushable and immune to wet conditions.
The sensor itself is manufactured in huge plastic sheets, similar in appearance to plastic wrap, by putting a thin layer of aluminum oxide over an equally thin polymer foil. Circuitry is then added using carbon-based organic components, which can be tailored to use in a similar method as more standard electronics. Although organic electronics don’t yet process information as quickly as their silicon brethren, they perform well enough for sensor duties.
The research has been published in the journal Nature under the title “An ultra-lightweight design for imperceptible plastic electronics.”
Below you’ll find a short video about imperceptible electronics.
Source: New Scientist