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Materials for stretchable electronics

  • Sigurd Wagner (a1) and Siegfried Bauer (a2)

Abstract

Electronics can be made on elastically stretchable “skin.” Such skins conform to irregularly curved surfaces and carry arrays of thin-film devices and integrated circuits. Laypeople and scientists intuitively grasp the concept of electronic skins; material scientists then ask “what materials are used?” and “how does it work?” Stretchable circuits are made of diverse materials that span more than 12 orders of magnitude in elastic modulus. We begin with a brief overview of the materials and the architecture of stretchable electronics, then we discuss stretchable substrates, encapsulation, interconnects, and the fabrication of devices and circuits. These components and techniques provide the tools for creating new concepts in biocompatible circuits that conform to and stretch with living tissue. They enable wireless energy transfer via stretchable antennas, stretchable solar cells that convert sunlight to electricity, supercapacitors, and batteries that store energy in stretchable electronic devices. We conclude with a brief outlook on the technical challenges for this revolutionary technology on its road to functional stretchable electronic systems.

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