Researchers from Princeton University have
found a way to make wrinkles useful.
The researchers have developed a type of conductor that is stretchable.
The flexible conductor promises better connections for devices that attach
to flexible surfaces like skin or that span oddly shaped spaces.
The conductor is a sandwich of a type of plastic, a 5-nanometer-thick
layer of chromium, and 25- to 100-nanometer layer of gold. A nanometer is
the span of ten hydrogen atoms.
The process of depositing the gold caused the layer to form a pattern
of wrinkles that smooth out when the conductor is stretched. The film continues
to conduct electricity when stretched as much as 22 percent, according to
the researchers. Plain gold strips crack when they are stretched one or
The wrinkles can be patterned depending on what the conductors will
be used for, according to the researchers.
The conductors could improve retina-shaped photosensor arrays, plastic
actuators, and stretchable sensitive skin for machines, according to the
The conductors could be ready for use in practical devices in five
to ten years, according to the researchers. The work appeared in the the
April, 2003 issue of Applied Physics Letters.
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