Scientists create flexible circuit boards

News 28 Mar, 2008

American researchers claim a breakthrough in flexible silicon circuit boards could lead to wearable computers.

Scientists in the US have developed flexible silicon circuit boards, which could be used to create wearable computers or biomedical devices.

The boards are created from "nanoribbons", ultra-thin sheets of silicon bonded to sheets of rubber. The sheets are so thin that a complete circuit is just one and a half microns thick, hundreds of times thinner than conventional silicon circuits found in PCs.

"The notion that silicon cannot be used in such applications because it is intrinsically brittle and rigid has been tossed out the window," said John Rogers, a founder professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois, developer of the circuits.

"Through carefully optimized mechanical layouts and structural configurations, we can use silicon in integrated circuits that are fully foldable and stretchable."

While bendable electronics have been seen before, those breakthroughs depended on organic semiconductor materials, which made them too slow to be used in complex computing tasks. However, as the method employed by Rogers utilises traditional silicon, he claimed they're capable of similar performance to solid wafers.

Details of the new invention were published in the journal Science.

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