Stretchable electronics could lead to robotic skin, computerized clothes
Thanks to a basic sewing machine, your shirt might someday connect to the Internet
Computerworld - Researchers at Purdue University have made an advance in stretchable electronics that could lead to computerized clothing and robots with humanlike skin that can "feel."
The issue has been how to create stretchable electronics, but the Purdue scientists have found a simple answer -- a sewing machine.
The same sewing machine that you use to make your child's Halloween costume or to stitch together a pair of curtains is the same machine that can make what scientists call ultra-stretchable interconnects out of conventional wire.
The sewing machine uses a water-soluble thread to stitch the wire into a zigzag pattern. Since it's difficult to sew the wire into the rubbery material, scientists worked out a technique to, instead, stitch the wire into a sheet of polyethylene terephthalate, the material used to make transparencies for overhead projectors in classrooms.
Once the wire pattern is stitched to the sheets, a rubbery elastomer material is poured over the sheet, encasing the wire as it solidifies.
Warm water is used to dissolve the thread and separate the polyethylene sheet from the rubbery material that now holds the wire.
The basic sewing machine is a feasible alternative to more complicated and expensive techniques that other researchers have investigated, according to Purdue. Some scientists have tried to use microfabrication techniques or exotic technologies like liquid-metal-filled microchannels to attain the same results.
The stretchable electronics are capable of stretching 500% of its length, Purdue said.
"This compares to only a few percent for an ordinary metal connection," said Babak Ziaie, a Purdue professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. "The structures are also highly robust, capable of withstanding thousands of repeated stretch-and-release cycles."
Scientists have been trying to create stretchable electronics that can be used in computerized clothing that people might use to access the Internet, store data and monitor the wearer's health. While the material could be used to create robots with sensors in their skin and synthetic muscles, it also could be used to build implantable medical systems or devices.
This article, Stretchable electronics could lead to robotic skin, computerized clothes , was originally published at Computerworld.com.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is email@example.com.
Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- The Growing Demand for Rich Media This white paper discusses how IBM Customer Experience Suite Rich Media Edition can automate rich media workflows, from collaborating with creative agencies and...
- Intelligent Imaging for Improved Banking Performance and Profitability A new generation of "Intelligent Imaging" solutions has emerged that is helping banks remove the burden of paper in legacy processes, like loan...
- Shifting Gears: The Value of Customer-Driven Quality in Manufacturing In today's competitive manufacturing market, the customer must be the center of the quality universe. This paper details how manufacturers can improve customer...
- What Does it Take to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience? The Two Top-Rated Online Retailers, B&H Photo and Crutchfield Electronics, Share Their Secrets Discuss practical CX tools and service methods such as contact center agents and the use of realtime speech analytics to help contact center...
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily... All Emerging Technologies White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!