Stretchable, degradable semiconductors

November 13, 2019

To seamlessly integrate electronics with the natural world, materials are needed that are both stretchable and degradable -- for example, flexible medical devices that conform to the surfaces of internal organs, but that dissolve and disappear when no longer needed. However, introducing these properties to electronics has been challenging. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Central Science have developed stretchable, degradable semiconductors that could someday find applications in health and environmental monitoring.

Semiconductors, which are essential components of almost all computers and electronic devices, have properties somewhere between conductors and resistors. Most semiconductors are currently made of silicon or other rigid inorganic materials. Scientists have tried making flexible, degradable semiconductors using different approaches, but the products either didn't break down completely or had reduced electrical performance when stretched. Zhenan Bao and colleagues wanted to see if they could solve these problems by combining a rubbery organic polymer with a semiconducting one.

To make their new material, the researchers synthesized and mixed the two degradable polymers, which self-assembled into semiconducting nanofibers embedded in an elastic matrix. Thin films made of these fibers could be stretched to twice their normal length without cracking or compromising electrical performance. When placed in a weak acid, the new material degraded completely within 10 days, but it would likely take much longer in the human body, Bao says. The semiconductor was also non-toxic to human cells growing on the material in a petri dish. According to the researchers, this is the first example of a material that simultaneously possesses the three qualities of semiconductivity, intrinsic stretchability and full degradability.
-end-
The authors acknowledge funding from the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

This ACS AuthorChoice article will be available on November 13 at 8 a.m. Eastern time here: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acscentsci.9b00850

The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us: Twitter | Facebook

American Chemical Society

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.