Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created the world’s fastest stretchable and wearable integrated circuits. The move is an advance that could help propel the Internet of Things (IoT) forward.
The platform, the details of which have been published in the May 27 journal ‘Advanced Functional Materials‘, could open up options to manufacturers seeking to expand the capabilities and possible applications of wearable technologies, especially as developers look to take advantage of a new generation of wireless broadband technologies, referred to as 5G.
Tiny circuits with biomedical applications
The new technology also has a range of biomedical applications. Used in epidermal electronic systems, which are essentially just like temporary, electronic tattoos, this kind of technology could allow healthcare staff to remotely and wirelessly monitor patients. No wires and less time in the hospital also stands to increase patient comfort.
The stretchable and integrated circuits are just 25 micrometers (or .025 millimeters) thick. But what makes them so powerful is their unique structure, which relies on an ‘S’ shaped formation that works like a 3-D puzzle to give the transmission lines the ability to stretch without affecting performance.
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Opening the door to new IoT possibilities
In an official post on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s website, the team stated that “It also helps shield the lines from outside interference and, at the same time, confine the electromagnetic waves flowing through them, almost completely eliminating current loss. Currently, the researchers’ stretchable integrated circuits can operate at radio frequency levels up to 40 gigahertz.”
Zhenqiang “Jack” Ma, the Lynn H. Matthias Professor in Engineering and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in electrical and computer engineering, said “We’ve found a way to integrate high-frequency active transistors into a useful circuit that can be wireless. This is a platform. This opens the door to lots of new capabilities.”
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