Menu
Go on, bend, punch and step on this transistor

Go on, bend, punch and step on this transistor

Built with carbon nanotubes, these electronics can be run over, hammered and laundered without harm

A high heel shoe is pushed into a new flexible transistor developed by researchers from Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). A paper on the transistor was published in Nano Letters.

A high heel shoe is pushed into a new flexible transistor developed by researchers from Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). A paper on the transistor was published in Nano Letters.

Japanese researchers have developed stretchable, tough electronics that could be incorporated into clothing, transforming wearable technology.

The flexible transistors can take a serious beating and can even be laundered along with clothing, according to the researchers from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

Possible applications include embedding the transistors into clothing to monitor health signs, as well as using them for the basis of synthetic sensitive skin covering humanoid robots.

All electronic devices developed so far contain brittle materials such as metals and thus cannot live up to the natural softness and flexibility of clothing, AIST researcher Atsuko Sekiguchi and colleagues wrote in the journal Nano Letters.

With the aim of creating a transistor made entirely of supple materials, the eight researchers embedded a rubber matrix with carbon nanotubes, a super-strong conductive material that has recently been used as the basis for a new nonvolatile memory.

The resulting material consists of hydrocarbon polymers and long single-walled carbon nanotubes arranged in a network structure. It retained both the electrical conductivity of the nanotubes and the softness of rubber.

The researchers produced the transistor in a variety of designs, including a circle with a concentric arrangement of channels. It has 110 percent elasticity and will still work even after being hammered, run over by a car and stepped on with high-heel shoes.

"Although previous reports have demonstrated one or two aspects of robustness, our aim was to develop a wearable device that could tolerate all the 'punishments' our clothes experience, for example, stretching, bending, and twisting, as well as compression, impact and laundering," the researchers wrote. "To date, this level and diversity of robustness have never been reported for any electronic device."

The transistor could be used in "health monitors, wearable communication devices, robotic skins, and so on," Sekiguchi said via email. It would be difficult to estimate how much the device might cost, the researcher added.

While use in wearable computers has been a major focus of flexible electronics, the concept has also been applied in other ways, including health-monitoring sportswear and brain implants that can directly monitor and stimulate cells.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceconsumer electronicsComponentsJapan Science and Technology AgencyAtsuko SekiguchiNational Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments