North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers have created stretchable, transparent conductors with a nano-accordion design that could be used in flexible electronics, stretchable displays, or wearable sensors.
"Our technique uses geometry to stretch brittle materials, which is inspired by springs that we see in everyday life," says NCSU Ph.D. student Abhijeet Bagal.
The researchers first created a three-dimensional polymer template on a silicon substrate, coated with a layer of aluminum-doped zinc oxide covered with an elastic polymer. The process produces a series of symmetrical zinc oxide ridges on an elastic substrate.
"We can also control the thickness of the zinc oxide layer, and have done extensive testing with layers ranging from 30 to 70 nanometers thick," says NCSU Ph.D. student Erinn Dandley. "This is important because the thickness of the zinc oxide affects the structure's optical, electrical, and mechanical properties."
The structure can be stretched repeatedly without breaking, and while there is some loss of conductivity at first, additional stretching does not affect conductivity.
"We're now working on ways to improve the conductivity of the nano-accordion structures," says NCSU professor Chih-Hao Chang.
From NCSU News
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