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Foldable and stretchable, silicon circuits conform to many shapes
Date:3/27/2008

stems with nearly arbitrary levels of complexity, said Rogers, who also is a researcher at the Beckman Institute and at the universitys Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory.

The wavy concept now incorporates optimized mechanical designs and diverse sets of materials, all integrated together in systems that involve spatially varying thicknesses and material types, Rogers said. The overall buckling process yields wavy shapes that vary from place to place on the integrated circuit, in a complex but theoretically predictable fashion.

Achieving high degrees of mechanical flexibility, or foldability, is important to sustaining the wavy shapes, Rogers said. The more robust the circuits are under bending, the more easily they will adopt the wavy shapes which, in turn, allow overall system stretchability. For this purpose, we use ultrathin circuit sheets designed to locate the most fragile materials in a neutral plane that minimizes their exposure to mechanical strains during bending.

To create their fully stretchable integrated circuits, the researchers begin by applying a sacrificial layer of polymer to a rigid carrier substrate. On top of the sacrificial layer they deposit a very thin plastic coating, which will support the integrated circuit. The circuit components are then crafted using conventional techniques for planar device fabrication, along with printing methods for integrating aligned arrays of nanoribbons of single-crystal silicon as the semiconductor. The combined thickness of the circuit elements and the plastic coating is about 50 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

Next, the sacrificial polymer layer is washed away, and the plastic coating and integrated circuit are bonded to a piece of prestrained silicone rubber. Lastly, the strain is relieved, and as the rubber springs back to its initial shape, it applies compressive stresses to the circuit sheet. Those stresses spontaneously lead to a complex pattern
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Contact: James E. Kloeppel
kloeppel@uiuc.edu
217-244-1073
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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