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Researchers Devise New Means For Creating Elastic Conductors

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buckled nanotubes

The buckled nanotubes look like squiggly lines on a flat surface.

Credit: North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers have developed a method for creating elastic conductors made of carbon nanotubes, which they say could lead to the large-scale production of a new generation of elastic electronic devices. "We're optimistic that this new approach could lead to large-scale production of stretchable conductors, which would then expedite research and development of elastic electronic devices," says NCSU professor Yong Zhu. He says stretchable electronic devices would be both more resilient and able to conform to various shapes, with applications in clothing, implanted medical devices, and sensors.

The researchers' method involves placing aligned carbon nanotubes on an elastic substrate using a transfer printing process. The substrate is then stretched, which separates the nanotubes while maintaining their parallel alignment. When the substrate relaxes, the nanotubes buckle, creating what looks like a collection of parallel lines on a flat surface.

Zhu says this new method will make manufacturing elastic conductors much more efficient. "For example, roll-to-roll printing techniques could be adapted to take advantage of our new method," he says.

From North Carolina State University
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