Stretchable Conductor for Elastic Electronics and Gentler Medical Devices

Flexible electronics have a wide variety of possibilities, from bendable displays and batteries to medical implants that move with the body. Finding good conductors that work when pulled to twice their length is a challenge, and researchers have tried wires in assorted patterns, liquid metals, nanowire networks, and more. Now, University of Michigan engineers have found that polyurethane studded with spherical, gold nanoparticles may make the best stretchy conductor yet. "As we stretch, they rearrange themselves to maintain the conductivity, and this is the reason why we got the amazing combination of stretchability and electrical conductivity," said chemical engineering professor Nicholas Kotov. The researchers chiefly see their stretchable conductors as electrodes, and improving medical implants is of particular interest to Kotov.