Flexible Silicon Circuits Conform to Complex Shapes

Scientists at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana have developed a new form of stretchable silicon integrated circuit that can wrap around complex shapes such as spheres, body parts, and aircraft wings. The circuits can operate during stretching, compressing, folding, and other types of extreme mechanical deformations, without a reduction in electrical performance.

The new designs and fabrication strategies could produce wearable systems for personal health monitoring and therapeutics, or systems that wrap around mechanical parts such as aircraft wings and fuselages to monitor structural properties.

The researchers constructed integrated circuits consisting of transistors, oscillators, logic gates, and amplifiers. The circuits exhibited extreme levels of bendability and stretchability, with electronic properties comparable to those of similar circuits built on conventional silicon wafers.

The new design and construction strategies represent general and scalable routes to high-performance, foldable, and stretchable electronic devices that can incorporate established, inorganic electronic materials whose fragile, brittle mechanical properties would otherwise preclude their use, the researchers report.

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