Stretchy gold electronics could one day live inside your brain
What looks like a shiny piece of gold foil is actually a new stretchy conductive material that could one day be fashioned into electrode implants for the brain or pacemakers for the heart. Crafted from gold nanoparticles and an elastic polymer, the material retains its conductivity even when stretched to four times its original length.
"It looks like elastic gold," said Nicholas Kotov, a chemical engineer at the University of Michigan. “But we can stretch it just like a rubber band.” When it stretches, it retains all the properties of a metal, including the ability to transport electrons.
Normally, stretching a circuit disrupts the interatomic connections that keep electrons flowing from one end to the other. Most existing stretchable electronics overcome this difficulty by using accordion- or spring-like folding wires that can expand and contract. But in the new material, no folds or convolutions are needed.
Its secret? Self-organising gold nanoparticles that have been embedded into an elastic polymer, polyurethane.
When the shiny material is stretched, the nanoparticles self-organise into conductive chains, scurrying to fill the gaps in the elongating material. It’s the first material that relies on nanospheres to achieve intrinsic stretchable conductivity, Kotov and his colleagues reported on 17 July in Nature.
Looking at the substance under electron microscopes revealed that the spheres snapped into chains under pressure, producing structures electrons could flow through. “And when you release the stress, they pretty much come back to their original position,” Kotov said.
The process is repeatable. And although conductance at maximal stretch is decreased to less than 10 percent of the original, it’s still enough to provide power to some devices, the team reports.
"The results suggest some very interesting, unexpected effects of nanoparticle-elastomer composites," said John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois. Rogers and his lab have developed an array of super-cool flexible, silicon-based circuits that use serpentine wires and buckled folds for stretching and contraction. “These types of conducting materials could provide new options in engineering design,” he said.
Someday, the gold-and-polyurethane material might live inside your head - in the form of implantable electrodes for treating movement disorders or other conditions. Or maybe, it will find its place on your heart, as part of a device that regulates cardiac activity. Scientists have been searching for ways to make pliant, biocompatible electronics that can bend and stretch and mold to the human body’s many curved surfaces, whether in the form of temporary tattoos or circuits that hug the ridges on the brain’s surface.
Kotov and his team are currently testing whether other nanoparticles can be used to create stretchy conductors. They’re also evaluating how prototype implants made from the nanogold and elastic polymers perform in rat brains. Then, the key will be to move from a stretchy conductor to a functioning, stretchy electronic system.

Stretchy gold electronics could one day live inside your brain

What looks like a shiny piece of gold foil is actually a new stretchy conductive material that could one day be fashioned into electrode implants for the brain or pacemakers for the heart. Crafted from gold nanoparticles and an elastic polymer, the material retains its conductivity even when stretched to four times its original length.

"It looks like elastic gold," said Nicholas Kotov, a chemical engineer at the University of Michigan. “But we can stretch it just like a rubber band.” When it stretches, it retains all the properties of a metal, including the ability to transport electrons.

Normally, stretching a circuit disrupts the interatomic connections that keep electrons flowing from one end to the other. Most existing stretchable electronics overcome this difficulty by using accordion- or spring-like folding wires that can expand and contract. But in the new material, no folds or convolutions are needed.

Its secret? Self-organising gold nanoparticles that have been embedded into an elastic polymer, polyurethane.

When the shiny material is stretched, the nanoparticles self-organise into conductive chains, scurrying to fill the gaps in the elongating material. It’s the first material that relies on nanospheres to achieve intrinsic stretchable conductivity, Kotov and his colleagues reported on 17 July in Nature.

Looking at the substance under electron microscopes revealed that the spheres snapped into chains under pressure, producing structures electrons could flow through. “And when you release the stress, they pretty much come back to their original position,” Kotov said.

The process is repeatable. And although conductance at maximal stretch is decreased to less than 10 percent of the original, it’s still enough to provide power to some devices, the team reports.

"The results suggest some very interesting, unexpected effects of nanoparticle-elastomer composites," said John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois. Rogers and his lab have developed an array of super-cool flexible, silicon-based circuits that use serpentine wires and buckled folds for stretching and contraction. “These types of conducting materials could provide new options in engineering design,” he said.

Someday, the gold-and-polyurethane material might live inside your head - in the form of implantable electrodes for treating movement disorders or other conditions. Or maybe, it will find its place on your heart, as part of a device that regulates cardiac activity. Scientists have been searching for ways to make pliant, biocompatible electronics that can bend and stretch and mold to the human body’s many curved surfaces, whether in the form of temporary tattoos or circuits that hug the ridges on the brain’s surface.

Kotov and his team are currently testing whether other nanoparticles can be used to create stretchy conductors. They’re also evaluating how prototype implants made from the nanogold and elastic polymers perform in rat brains. Then, the key will be to move from a stretchy conductor to a functioning, stretchy electronic system.

(Source: wired.co.uk)

  1. sooozyy reblogged this from neuromorphogenesis and added:
    stretchable electrodes, totally yes!
  2. qcontinuum27 reblogged this from neuromorphogenesis
  3. scienceisnature reblogged this from neuromorphogenesis
  4. thesecretwordisbosco reblogged this from itsvondell
  5. shorttboos reblogged this from jumpingjacktrash
  6. iamavatar reblogged this from do-it-for-science
  7. do-it-for-science reblogged this from neuromorphogenesis
  8. anthropwashere reblogged this from jumpingjacktrash
  9. bozonkwark reblogged this from neuromorphogenesis
  10. tansytum reblogged this from neuromorphogenesis
  11. ojosnegros-pielcanela reblogged this from scinerds
  12. gnarlysnarly reblogged this from anengineersaspect
  13. chelonaut reblogged this from anengineersaspect
  14. anengineersaspect reblogged this from analgesicrhymes
  15. timeladythewarden reblogged this from shitletsbepirates
  16. squishy-ass-witch reblogged this from itsvondell
  17. ameliorate-me reblogged this from amichii
  18. hummusapiens reblogged this from science-survives
  19. amichii reblogged this from itsvondell
  20. maireblog reblogged this from icetigris
  21. llynoleum reblogged this from itsvondell
  22. baritoneblues reblogged this from mister-taxi
  23. nowwhohasit reblogged this from eigensicht
  24. steckles reblogged this from betechouette
  25. fuxkfuxkfuxk reblogged this from scinerds
  26. ctrl-q reblogged this from itsvondell
  27. viirulentscience reblogged this from scinerds
  28. suckerforscifi reblogged this from suck--eggs
  29. suck--eggs reblogged this from itsvondell
  30. ayyitsnana reblogged this from healthy-skepticism
  31. soupercool reblogged this from cishetbranscordato
  32. tsunderepunk reblogged this from itsvondell