'Transformative electronics systems' to broaden wearable applications

November 01, 2019

Imagine a handheld electronic gadget that can soften and deform when attached to our skin. This will be the future of electronics we all dreamed of. A research team at KAIST says their new platform called 'Transformative Electronics Systems' will open a new class of electronics, allowing reconfigurable electronic interfaces to be optimized for a variety of applications.

A team working under Professor Jae-Woong Jeong from the School of Electrical Engineering at KAIST has invented a multifunctional electronic platform that can mechanically transform its shape, flexibility, and stretchability. This platform, which was reported in Science Advances, allows users to seamlessly and precisely tune its stiffness and shape.

"This new class of electronics will not only offer robust, convenient interfaces for use in both tabletop or handheld setups, but also allow seamless integration with the skin when applied onto our bodies," said Professor Jeong.

The transformative electronics consist of a special gallium metal structure, hermetically encapsulated and sealed within a soft silicone material, combined with electronics that are designed to be flexible and stretchable. The mechanical transformation of the electronic systems is specifically triggered by temperature change events controlled by the user.

"Gallium is an interesting key material. It is biocompatible, has high rigidity in solid form, and melts at a temperature comparable to the skin's temperature," said lead author Sang-Hyuk Byun, a researcher at KAIST.

Once the transformative electronic platform comes in contact with a human body, the gallium metal encapsulated inside the silicone changes to a liquid state and softens the whole electronic structure, making it stretchable, flexible, and wearable. The gallium metal then solidifies again once the structure is peeled off the skin, making the electronic circuits stiff and stable. When flexible electronic circuits were integrated onto these transformative platforms, it empowered them with the ability to become either flexible and stretchable or rigid.

"This technology could not have been achieved without interdisciplinary efforts," said co-lead author Joo Yong Sim, who is a researcher with ETRI. "We worked together with electrical, mechanical, and biomedical engineers, as well as material scientists and neuroscientists to make this breakthrough."

This universal electronics platform allowed researchers to demonstrate applications that were highly adaptable and customizable, such as a multi-purpose personal electronics with variable stiffness and stretchability, a pressure sensor with tuneable bandwidth and sensitivity, and a neural probe that softens upon implantation into brain tissue.

Applicable for both traditional and emerging electronics technologies, this breakthrough can potentially reshape the consumer electronics industry, especially in the biomedical and robotic domains. The researchers believe that with further development, this novel electronics technology can significantly impact the way we use electronics in our daily life.
-end-
-Profile

Professor Jae-Woong Jeong
jjeong1@kaist.ac.kr
https://www.jeongresearch.org/
School of Electrical Engineering
KAIST
http://kaist.ac.kr

-About KAIST

KAIST is the first and top science and technology university in Korea. KAIST was established in 1971 by the Korean government to educate scientists and engineers committed to industrialization and economic growth in Korea.

Since then, KAIST and its 61,125 graduates have been the gateway to advanced science and technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. KAIST has emerged as one of the most innovative universities with more than 12,000 students enrolled in five colleges and seven schools including 1,000 international students from 80 countries.

On the precipice of its 50th anniversary in 2021, KAIST continues to strive to make the world better through the pursuit in education, research, entrepreneurship, and globalization.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

Related Electronics Articles from Brightsurf:

Artificial materials for more efficient electronics
The discovery by a team of the University of Geneva of an unprecedented physical effect in a new artificial material marks a significant milestone in the lengthy process of developing ''made-to-order'' materials and more energy-efficient electronics.

The new tattoo: Drawing electronics on skin
One day, people could monitor their own health conditions by simply picking up a pencil and drawing a bioelectronic device on their skin.

Lighting the way to porous electronics and sensors
Researchers from Osaka University have created porous titanium dioxide ceramic thin films, at high temperatures and room temperature.

The ink of the future in printed electronics
A research group led by Simone Fabiano at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University, has created an organic material with superb conductivity that doesn't need to be doped.

Integrating electronics onto physical prototypes
MIT researchers have invented a way to integrate 'breadboards' -- flat platforms widely used for electronics prototyping -- directly onto physical products.

Something from nothing: Using waste heat to power electronics
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba developed an improved thermocell design to convert heat into electricity.

Electronics at the speed of light
A European team of researchers including physicists from the University of Konstanz has found a way of transporting electrons at times below the femtosecond range by manipulating them with light.

Electronics integrated to the muscle via 'Kirigami'
A research team in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Information Engineering and the Electronics-Inspired Interdisciplinary Research Institute (EIIRIS) at Toyohashi University of Technology has developed a donut-shaped kirigami device for electromyography (EMG) recordings.

Creating 2D heterostructures for future electronics
New research integrates nanomaterials into heterostructures, an important step toward creating nanoelectronics.

Researchers report a new way to produce curvy electronics
Contact lenses that can monitor your health as well as correct your eyesight aren't science fiction, but an efficient manufacturing method has remained elusive.

Read More: Electronics News and Electronics Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.