Light-powered healing of a wearable electrical conductor

June 2, 2015, The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Light-powered healing of electrical conductor: (left to right) pristine, cracked, and optically-healed electrical conductor. Credit: KAIST

Mechanical failure along a conductive pathway can cause the unexpected shutdown of electronic devices, ultimately limiting device lifetimes. In particular, wearable electronic devices, which inevitably undergo dynamic and vigorous motions (e.g., bending, folding, or twisting), are much more liable to suffer from such conductive failures compared with conventional flat electronic devices. To address this problem, various systems to realize healable electrical conductors have been proposed; however, rapid, noninvasive, and on-demand healing, factors that are all synergistically required, especially for wearable device applications, still remains challenging to realize.

Professor Jung-Ki Park and Hee-Tak Kim in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have come up with the idea of a light-powered healable . Light-powered healing is implemented via the use of a photochromic soft material (i.e., an azobenzene material), which can be directionally moved along the light polarization. This unique directionality of the material's movement with respect to light polarization enables an efficient healing process, regardless of crack propagation directions, light incident angles, and the number of cracks.

By depositing silver nanowires (AgNWs), which are the conducting material used in this study, onto the top layer of the flexible photochromic soft material, this optically healable material has fully functional electrical conductivity. Notably, AgNWs are found to maintain conformable contact with the photochromic soft material, even during the optical healing process. Thus, AgNWs and the photochromic act as conductive pathways and a light-powered cargo carrier, respectively; the synergetic effect detailed from combining these various advantages provides rapid, noninvasive, and on-demand healing for a flexible electronic conductor, making light-powered healing more amenable to dynamically deformable wearable devices beyond existing systems.

Explore further: Highly conductive organic metal looks promising for disposable electronic devices

More information: "Light-Powered Healing of a Wearable Electrical Conductor." Adv. Funct. Mater., 24: 7273–7283. doi: 10.1002/adfm.201401666

Related Stories

Porous, layered material can serve as a graphene analog

May 19, 2015

An electrically conductive material, with layers resembling graphene (single sheet of graphite), was synthesized under mild conditions using a well-known molecule that allows good electronic coupling of nickel ions and organic ...

Durable, washable and high-performance conductive textiles

May 19, 2015

In a new method for preparing electrically conductive textiles, the textile surface is modified with a negatively charged polyelectrolyte poly(methacrylic acid sodium salt) (PMANa) or poly(acrylic acid sodium salt) (PAANa) ...

Recommended for you

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

The friendly extortioner takes it all

February 15, 2019

Cooperating with other people makes many things easier. However, competition is also a characteristic aspect of our society. In their struggle for contracts and positions, people have to be more successful than their competitors ...

0 comments

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.