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Wearable Sensors Tech: Researchers Print Circuits onto Stretchable Polymers

Posted on 1/4/2018 11:14:12 AM By ASC
  

North Carolina State University researchers may have found a new way to print flexible (and stretchable) electronic circuits.

Researchers Yiwei Han and Jingyan Dong used electrohydrodynamic (EHD) printing technology to create metallic conductors with sub 50 µm resolution that are not only electrically stable but also durable enough to stand up to hundreds of bending and stretching cycles.

stretchabel-circuit

The new fabrication method, published in the journal of Advanced Materials Technologies, could be a window to next-generation electronics and wearable sensors.

The researchers used EHD to print three different molten metal alloys onto glass, paper, as well as a pair of stretchable polymers. EHD is common in many manufacturing processes that typically use ink.

“Flexible electronics hold promise for use in many fields, but there are significant manufacturing costs involved – which poses a challenge in making them practical for commercial use,” says Jingyan Dong, corresponding author of a paper on the work and an associate professor in NC State’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering.

“Our approach should reduce cost and offer an efficient means of producing circuits with high resolution, making them viable for integrating into commercial devices,” Dong says.

This method could finally bring the price point low enough to employ the technology in commercial devices, including wearable sensors.

To demonstrate the technology, the researchers built a prototype touch sensor. The team is now looking for partners to employ the method in electronic device markets, such as wearable sensors.