Engineering researchers at Michigan State University have developed a stretchable smart fabric that can be created using an inkjet printer, raising the potential producing the material inexpensively.
The team has printed one of the first stretchable integrated circuits. Additional applications include display screens and tablet computers, which users could stretch to different sizes, or wallpaper that turns a wall into an electronic display. Unlike existing stretchy smart materials, the MSU fabric can be folded and carried in a pocket.
“We can conceivably make the costs of producing flexible electronics comparable to the costs of printing newspapers,” says lead researcher Chuan Wang.
The fabric is made of materials fabricated from nanomaterials and organic compounds. Dissolving the compounds in solution produces the electronic ink used to make a device.
For the stretchy circuit, Wang and his team have successfully produced the circuit and an organic light-emitting diode (OLED). Their next project is to combine the two devices into one pixel.