Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New means for creating elastic conductors

Date:
January 24, 2012
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Researchers have developed a new method for creating elastic conductors made of carbon nanotubes, which will contribute to large-scale production of the material for use in a new generation of elastic electronic devices.

The buckled nanotubes look like squiggly lines on a flat surface.
Credit: Image courtesy of North Carolina State University

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new method for creating elastic conductors made of carbon nanotubes, which will contribute to large-scale production of the material for use in a new generation of elastic electronic devices.

Related Articles


"We're optimistic that this new approach could lead to large-scale production of stretchable conductors, which would then expedite research and development of elastic electronic devices," says Dr. Yong Zhu, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State, and lead author of a paper describing the new technique.

Stretchable electronic devices would be both more resilient and able to conform to various shapes. Potential applications include devices that can be incorporated into clothing, implantable medical devices, and sensors that can be stretched over unmanned aerial vehicles.

To develop these stretchable electronics, one needs to create conductors that are elastic and will reliably transmit electric signals regardless of whether they are being stretched.

One way of making conductive materials more elastic is to "buckle" them. Zhu's new method buckles carbon nanotubes on the plane of the substrate. Think of the nanotubes as forming squiggly lines on a piece of paper, rather than an accordion shape that zigs up and down with only the bottom parts touching the sheet of paper. Zhu's team used carbon nanotubes because they are sturdy, stable, excellent conductors and can be aligned into ribbons.

The new process begins by placing aligned carbon nanotubes on an elastic substrate using a transfer printing process. The substrate is then stretched, which separates the nanotubes while maintaining their parallel alignment.

Strikingly, when the substrate is relaxed, the nanotubes do not return to their original positions. Instead, the nanotubes buckle -- creating what looks like a collection of parallel squiggly lines on a flat surface.

The carbon nanotubes are now elastic -- they can be stretched -- but they have retained their electrical properties.

The key benefit of this new method is that it will make manufacturing of elastic conductors significantly more efficient, because the carbon nanotubes can be applied before the substrate is stretched. This is compatible with existing manufacturing processes. "For example, roll-to-roll printing techniques could be adapted to take advantage of our new method," Zhu says.

A paper describing the new approach, "Buckling of Aligned Carbon Nanotubes as Stretchable Conductors: A New Manufacturing Strategy," was published online Jan. 23 in Advanced Materials. The paper was co-authored by Feng Xu, a Ph.D. student at NC State. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

In another new paper, Zhu's team has demonstrated for the first time that carbon nanotubes can be buckled using a technique in which the elastic substrate is stretched before the nanotubes are applied. The substrate is then relaxed, forcing the nanotubes to buckle out of plane. The nanotubes form a ribbon that curves up and down like the bellows of an accordion. This second technique has been used before with other materials. This second paper, "Wavy Ribbons of Carbon Nanotubes for Stretchable Conductors," was published Jan. 19 in Advanced Functional Materials.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Yong Zhu, Feng Xu. Buckling of Aligned Carbon Nanotubes as Stretchable Conductors: A New Manufacturing Strategy. Advanced Materials, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/adma.201103382
  2. Feng Xu, Xin Wang, Yuntian Zhu, Yong Zhu. Wavy Ribbons of Carbon Nanotubes for Stretchable Conductors. Advanced Functional Materials, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201102032

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "New means for creating elastic conductors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124112115.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2012, January 24). New means for creating elastic conductors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124112115.htm
North Carolina State University. "New means for creating elastic conductors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124112115.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Inspectors Found Faulty Work Before NYC Blast

Inspectors Found Faulty Work Before NYC Blast

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) An hour before an apparent gas explosion sent flames soaring and debris flying at a Manhattan apartment building, injuring 19 people, utility company inspectors decided the work being done there was faulty. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) Facebook on Thursday revealed more details about its Internet-connected drone project. The drone is bigger than a 737, but lighter than a car. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) The companion robot "Kirobo" returns to earth from the International Space Station and sets two Guinness World Records. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Residents Witness Building Explosion, Collapse

Residents Witness Building Explosion, Collapse

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) Witnesses recount the sites and sounds of a massive explosion and subsequent building collapse in the heart of Manhattan&apos;s trendy East Village on Thursday. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins