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Research Brings ­nbreakable Phones One Step Closer

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microtectonic plates

A microscopic picture of RMIT's flexible surface showing the micro-tectonic plates.

Credit: Philipp Gutruf / Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) researchers have developed a method to transfer electronics with versatile functionality, which are usually made on rigid silicon, onto a flexible surface. RMIT's Philipp Gutruf says the process could lead to fully functional flexible electronics, while providing a new way for the materials to mesh together.

"We have discovered a micro-tectonic effect, where microscale plates of oxide materials slide over each other, like geological plates, to relieve stress and retain electrical conductivity," Gutruf says. "The novel method we have developed overcomes the challenges of incorporating oxide materials in bendable electronic devices, paving the way for bendable consumer electronics and other exciting applications."

The researchers note their approach relies on transparent conductive indium tin oxide and rubber-like silicone, both of which are popular materials in electronics manufacturing. "The ability to combine any functional oxide with this biocompatible material creates the potential for biomedical devices to monitor or stimulate nerve cells and organs," says RMIT's Madhu Bhaskaran. "This is in addition to the immediate potential for consumer electronics applications in flexible displays, solar cells, and energy harvesters."

From Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
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