ETH Zurich researchers are developing electronic components that are thinner and more flexible than previous technologies, opening up new possibilities for ultra-thin, transparent sensors.
"These new thin-film transistors adhere to a wide range of surfaces and adapt perfectly," says ETH Zurich's Niko Munzenrieder.
The membrane consists of the polymer parylene, which the researchers evaporate layer by layer onto a conventional two-inch wafer. The researchers then release the parylene film with its attached electronic components from the wafer. They say an electronic component fabricated in this way is extremely flexible, adaptable, and transparent.
The researchers say "smart" contact lenses are one potential use of the technology and, during testing, they attached the thin-film transistors to standard contact lenses. The lenses were placed on an artificial eye and tested to see whether the electronics could withstand the bending radius of the eye and continue to function.
Although the tests were successful, the researchers say they must still overcome a few technical problems before a commercially viable solution can be considered. For example, the way in which the electronics are attached to surfaces such as a contact lens has to be optimized to account for the effects of the aqueous ocular environment.
From ETH Zurich
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