Ultra-flexible chip can be wrapped around a hair

Jan 07, 2014
Ultraflexible electronics can be achieved by dissolving a sacrificial polymer layer and releasing a thin polymer film from a host substrate. Credit: Salvatore et al

Scientists in Switzerland said Tuesday they can create electronic chips so flexible they can be wrapped around a human hair.

The technique entails building an on top of a sandwich of polyvinyl layers perched on a hard base.

The wafer is then placed in water, which dissolves two of the polyvinyl layers and causes the base to be released, sinking to the bottom of the lab dish.

What remains is a circuit embedded on a light, transparent non-soluble polymer film called parylene that is just one micrometre, or a millionth of a metre, thick.

The transistors continue to work even when wrapped around a , which is about 50 micrometres thick, according to the research published in the journal Nature Communications.

The ultra-bendable chip may have medical uses, and has already been tested on an artificial eye in the lab.

It was added to a to provide a monitor for glaucoma, in which pressure builds up dangerously in the eyeball, said the team.

The invention also has many other potential outlets, from flexible solar cells to wearable bio-sensors, they said.

Substrate wrapped around hairs. Credit: Salvatore et al

The electronics "can be transferred on any object, surface and on biological tissues like human skin and plant leaves," according to the study led by Giovanni Salvatore at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETZ).

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Ultraflexible electronics can be achieved by dissolving a sacrificial polymer layer and releasing a thin polymer film from a host substrate. The electronics can be transferred onto any arbitrary surface such as plant leaves and human skin. The use of transparent materials enable the realization of transparent devices which can be transferred on to plastic contact lens and can be used to monitor intra-ocular pressure for glaucoma. Credit: Salvatore et al

The use of transparent materials enable the realization of transparent devices which can be transferred on to plastic contact lenses and can be used to monitor intra-ocular pressure for glaucoma. Credit: Salvatore et al


Explore further: Firm combines 3-D printing with ancient foundry method

More information: Paper: dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms3982

Related Stories

Japan team develops micro-thin electric circuit

Jul 24, 2013

A flexible electrical circuit one-fifth the thickness of food wrap and weighing less than a feather could give doctors the chance to implant sensors inside the body, its Japanese developers say.

Checkerboard surface put to flexible electronics test

Dec 13, 2012

(Phys.org)—Interest mounts in stretchable electronics, seen as the future direction in mobile electronics. How long before manufacturing giants load retail shelves with devices that have stretchable electronics ...

Research brings unbreakable phones one step closer

Sep 16, 2013

Breakthrough research at RMIT University is advancing transparent bendable electronics, bringing science fiction gadgets – such as unbreakable rubber-like phones, rollable tablets and even functional clothing – closer ...

Recommended for you

Internet of things should be developable for all

2 hours ago

Within the next five to ten years, around 100 billion different devices will be online. A large part of the communication takes place solely between machines, and to ensure that they can communicate, the ...

Firm combines 3-D printing with ancient foundry method

Mar 27, 2015

A century-old firm that's done custom metal work for some of the nation's most prestigious buildings has combined 3-D printing and an ancient foundry process for a project at the National Archives Building in Washington, ...

Wearable device helps vision-impaired avoid collision

Mar 26, 2015

People who have lost some of their peripheral vision, such as those with retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma, or brain injury that causes half visual field loss, often face mobility challenges and increased likelihood ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.