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Coiled Nanowires May Hold Key to Stretchable Electronics

By North Carolina State University

January 14, 2011

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North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers have created coils of silicon nanowire on a substrate that can be stretched to more than twice their size, a development that could lead to stretchable electronic devices. "Our idea was to create electronic materials that can be tailored into coils to improve their stretchability without harming the electric functionality of the materials," says NCSU professor Yong Zhu.

The researchers placed silicon nanowires on a rubber substrate after they had applied pressure to the substrate and used specific amounts of ultraviolet radiation and ozone to change its mechanical properties, and found that the nanowires formed coils upon releasing the pressure. Although coil shapes are energetically favorable for just one-dimensional structures, the researchers say their mechanical properties allow them to be stretched to 104 percent beyond their original length, despite not consistently holding electric performance.

"We are working to improve the reliability of the electrical performance when the coils are stretched to the limit of their mechanical stretchability, which is likely well beyond 100 percent, according to our analysis," Zhu says.

From North Carolina State University
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