Stretchable semiconductors offer an alternative to the conventional semiconductors that can be used for medical as well as scientific advances.
FREMONT, CA: Living organisms comprise mainly of soft tissues that have the ability to stretch and quickly heal when damaged. On the other hand, every electronic device is made mostly of tough materials that are rarely stretchable. Researchers are trying to bridge the gap between tissues and electronic devices by developing a stretchable semiconductor material that can dissolve in environments such as the human body. An article published in Popular Mechanics talks about this new idea of stretchy semiconductors.
Stretchable semiconductors are skin-inspired material that is easier to fabricate, strain-tolerant, and can reduce the form factor of electronic devices by allowing more content into a smaller space. Earlier, making a skin-inspired material that could also offer conductivity was a huge challenge. Semiconductor materials that aided in computing were brittle and often crystalline-like crystal silicon or diamonds. Efforts to make stretchable semiconductors were defied by either low conductivity or inability of the semiconductor material to dissolve completely. However, recent efforts to create such material have resulted in positive developments in the direction.
Researchers synthesized and mixed two degradable polymers that got assembled into semiconducting nanofibers packed in an elastic matrix. The researchers found out that thin films of these fibers can be stretched to almost twice their length without compromising the electrical performance. Such a material can be implanted and left for a month without the need to retrieve it in a second operation.
Apart from medical diagnostics, stretchable, skin-inspired semiconductors can also realize the operation for biological ships or bioships in the future. Although such carriers have mostly been depicted in science fiction, stretchable semiconductors offer the potential to the researchers to come up with an equivalent vehicle. Bioships can significantly boost space missions by regenerating or self-healing in case of damage.
Researchers understand the potential of stretchable semiconductor devices and are striving to develop much more enhanced and practical skin-inspired semiconductors.
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