|15 February 2017|
Wallpaper which could transform a wall into an electronic display is one possible application of a new stretchable technology.
Developed by engineering researchers at Michigan State University, it is the first stretchable integrated circuit created entirely with an inkjet printer, which could have positive cost implications.
Created in the lab of Chuan Wang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, it could be used to make a number of products, including ultrathin smart tablets easily stretchable from mini-size to extra large.
We can conceivably make the costs of producing flexible electronics comparable to the costs of printing newspapers,” said Wang. “Our work could soon lead to printed displays that can easily be stretched to larger sizes, as well as wearable electronics and soft robotics applications.”
It is also more malleable than other stretchable electronics on the market as it can be folded and put in one’s pocket.
From the ink, Wang and his team have successfully created the elastic material, the circuit and the organic light-emitting diode, or OLED. The next step is combining the circuit and OLED into a single pixel, which Wang estimates will take one to two years. There are generally millions of pixels just underneath the screen of a smart tablet or a large display.
Once the researchers successfully combine the circuit and OLED into a working pixel, the smart fabric can be potentially commercialised.
Wang added: “We have created a new technology that is not yet available. And we have taken it one big step beyond the flexible screens that are about to become commercially available.”