Deformable conductors and related sensors, antennas and multiplexed systems
A running shear thinning gel makeup and ways of making such a composition are revealed. The running shear thinning gel makeup involves a combination of a eutectic gallium alloy and gallium oxide, whereas the mixture of eutectic gallium alloy and gallium oxide has a fat percent (wt %) of between about 59.9% and about 99.9% eutectic gallium alloy, plus a wt % between about 0.1% and about 2.0% gallium oxide. Also revealed are articles of manufacture, comprising the shear thinning gel makeup, and ways of making article of manufacture using a shear thinning gel makeup. Also revealed are sensors and multiplexed systems utilizing deformable conductors.
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There is growing interest in incorporating electronic equipment into everyday objects, such as clothing and cloth items which are expected to become pliable, stretchable and soft. Soft electronic equipment would be able to seamlessly interface using the humanbody, opening up many new applications such as wearables, medical apparatus along with the possibility of conformal robotics or’soft machines’ which could more securely interact with humans or delicate things (see, for instance, Dickey, ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2014Nov. 12; 6(21): 18369-18379).
Many unconventional manufacturing methods are used to fabricate these soft electronics, especially 3D printing. However, a major stumbling block is the lack of a high conductivity and easily processed stretchable conductor.
Many attempts at stretchable conductors are tried. One of the most successful has been microfluidic channels full of room temperature liquid alloy. Functional devices are created by etching micrometer channels intopolydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), sealing them over and then injecting metals alloy into the channels to make conductive paths. These metals may have a melting point as low as -19. degree. C. and so remain fluid under ordinary conditions. Since the metalconductors are fluid, they may be deformed to an extent limited solely by the material creating the channels comprising them and recover fully. Further, their change in resistance is a purely mechanical function of the cable length and cross section and sois linear. This affords a significant advantage of enabling conductive pathways to also act as sensors.
Manufacturing devices with such microfluidic channels is very challenging. PDMS is your preferred substrate, but producing a proper seal around the channels is costly, requiring exposure of this station comprising layer to oxygenplasma so as to stick a cap coating to enclose the station. Once assembled, the channels must be filled through a two syringe system, where one syringe injects the liquid alloy and the other evacuates the air already existing. Failure rates duringconstruction are very significant. Anecdotally it’s been reported that only about one in twenty five fabrication attempts succeeds. Thus, the need exist for other”liquid” metals.
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