PARIS – Medical electronics applications are needed that dynamically adapt to curving and bending surfaces. Research consortium IMEC claims it has developed electronics circuitry that flexes and stretches like skin.
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Researchers at IMEC’s associated lab at the University of Ghent said they thinned a commercially available microcontroller down to 30 µm. The die was embedded in a slim polyimide package (40-50 µm thick). Then, the ultrathin chip was integrated with stretchable electrical wiring.
IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) said this was achieved by patterning polyimide-supported meandering horseshoe-shaped wires, a technology developed and optimized at the lab. The final step consisted in embedding the package in an elastomeric substrate, e.g. polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). In this substrate, the conductors behave as two dimensional springs, enabling greater flexibility while preserving conductivity, researchers claimed.
“Future electronic circuitry will stretch and bend like rubber or skin while preserving its conductivity,” stated Jan Vanfleteren, responsible for the research on flexible and stretchable electronics at Imec’s Ghent lab. “This breakthrough achievement demonstrates that flexible Ultra-Thin Chip Packages (UTCP) can be integrated with stretchable wiring, paving the way toward fully flexible applications.
IMEC said it expects this achievement will be applied first in intelligent clothing. Medical applications will follow. Some examples include biomedical systems such as unobtrusive, wearable health monitors (e.g. electrocardiogram or temperature sensors), advanced surgical tools, or consumer electronics such as mobile phones embedded in smart textiles.See related links:DIY electrocardiograms for patients with heart diseaseImec, Panasonic R&D collaboration to include flexible electronics
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