One day in 2010, a Rutgers physicist watched a store employee showcase a kitchen gadget that vacuum-seals food in plastic. The simple concept – an airtight seal around pieces of food – just might apply to his research: developing flexible electronics using lightweight organic semiconductors for products such as video displays or solar cells.

Researchers suspended a thin polymer membrane above the organic crystal and created a vacuum underneath, causing the membrane to collapse gently and evenly onto the crystal’s surface. The result: a smooth, defect-free interface between the organic semiconductor and the gate insulator.

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Also: Combining silk with silicon nanomaterials  can generate new flexible electronic devices.