Stretchable Silicon Recognized Among Top 10 Emerging Technologies

John Rogers' research on stretchable silicon has been named one of the top ten emerging technologies in the MIT Technology Review.

Scanning electron micrograph of 'wavy' single crystal silicon ribbons on an elastomeric substrate. This form of silicon has the unusual property that it is fully stretchable, with mechanics similar to an accordion bellows.
Scanning electron micrograph of 'wavy' single crystal silicon ribbons on an elastomeric substrate. This form of silicon has the unusual property that it is fully stretchable, with mechanics similar to an accordion bellows.

The scanning electron micrograph of a stretchable form of single crystal silicon shows thin (~100 nm) strips (~10 microns wide) of silicon are configured into sinusoidal, "wavy" geometries and are bonded to a soft, elastomeric substrate (poly(dimethylsiloxane). This 'wavy' silicon can be reversibly stretched and compressed to large levels of strain without damaging the silicon: the amplitudes and periods of the waves change to accommodate these deformations, thereby avoiding significant strains in the silicon itself. Dielectrics, patterns of dopants, electrodes and other elements directly integrated with the silicon yields fully formed, high performance 'wavy' metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors (MOSFETs), pn diodes and other devices for electronic circuits that can be stretched or compressed to similarly large levels of strain.

Potential applications range from sensors and drive electronics for integration into artificial muscles or biological tissues, to structural health monitors wrapped around aircraft wings, to stretchable electronic skins as parts of inflatable habitats for manned space exploration, to spherically curved electronics for wide angle cameras, and other devices that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with conventional forms of electronics.

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