New Age of Flexible Electronics with Self-healing Gel

Published By : 26 Nov 2015 | Published By : QYRESEARCH

Technology might be moving at a rapid pace towards foldable, rollable, and lighter electronics, but the electronic chips that exist today are not flexible enough to bend freely. The electronics that can bend cannot repair themselves on a cellular level if they crack. This makes the chips highly prone to wear and tear.

Currently, most electronics that claim to be healing require external stimuli such as heat or light to create enough energy in the cells to help them repair. Scientists have now created a gel that possesses high conductivity along with exceptional electrical and mechanical self-healing properties.

Guihua Yu, a mechanical engineer and an assistant professor, developed the “supergel”. He said that the concept of self-healing has been popularized among the masses that are working on different electronics applications, but this was the first ever gel that is truly self-healing, as in it can heal without any external stimuli.

Yu’s team developed the self-healing using a combination two gels. One of them is a metal-ligand self-assembling gel that offers self-healing properties. The second is a polymer hydrogel that acts as a conductor. Yu is expected to release a paper on the gel’s synthesis soon.

The polymer hydrogel, according to Yu, is required to impart enhanced elasticity and molecular strength to the supramolecular gel. Yu also said that the gel is not a complete replacement to a standard metal conductor, but more of a soft joint that acts as a bridge between the disjointed circuit nodes.

The research process conducted by Yu was funded by 3M, the Welch Foundation, the American Chemical Society, and the National Science Foundation.

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