Bio-inspired material holds promise for stretchable electronics

A new bio-inspired material that mimicks the way tendons connect to bones could speed the development of stretchable, wearable electronic devices, according to its developers.

The team, from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, created the material from bonded layers of polyurethane, which contain 'islands' stiff enough to house and protect delicate circuits.

Lead researcher Andre Studart explained: "While the soft part can stretch by 350%, the stiff regions created by impregnating the material with tiny platelets of aluminum oxide and a synthetic clay called laponite, hardly deform and can protect the electronics."

Because the concentration of the platelets is gradually increased, Studart says the junction between the stretchy and stiff parts is also durable.

He continued: "There are many biological materials that have these properties as well, like the way tendons link muscle to bone. But there are not so many examples in synthetic materials."

The researchers believe the technology could be applied to the monitoring and management of chronic diseases, from diabetes to hypertension.

The technique could also be used to build synthetic cartilage or false teeth with better matches to their natural counterparts, Studart says.

He concluded: "The vision is that you will be able to make materials that are as heterogeneous as the biological ones."

Laura Hopperton

This material is protected by MA Business copyright
See Terms and Conditions.
One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not.
For multiple copies contact the sales team.


Supporting Information
Do you have any comments about this article?

Your comments/feedback may be edited prior to publishing. Not all entries will be published.
Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

© MA Business Ltd (a Mark Allen Group Company) 2020