A Material that has High Electrical Conductivity and can Stretch and Contract like Rubber
In a world-leading initiative, a research group led by Takao Someya at the
University of Tokyo has developed a material that has high electrical conductivity,
but can stretch and contract like rubber. The group has used this material to
make integrated circuits containing organic transistors.
Recently, carbon nanotubes dispersed in polymers have been used in efforts
to create conductive materials that can stretch and contract. However, carbon
nanotubes clump together, and this problem has prevented researchers from obtaining
the desired characteristics. Someyas group solved the clumping problem by dispersing
the nanotubes in an ionic liquid before mixing it with a polymer. The resulting
material, with its uniformly dispersed nanotubes, shows hardly any change in
electrical conductivity even when stretched by up to 70%.
Someyas group has used this elastic material to make a large integrated circuit,
and is studying how to incorporate sensors for temperature, pressure, ultrasound,
and light. Such a large, flexible sensor could be attached to the surface of
a robot, to give the robot a sense of touch similar to that of human skin.
Run time: 3.11 mins