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Fastest stretchable circuits are 25µm thick, support wireless comms

A development made by engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison could lead to a more connected, high speed wireless world, as well as driving the development of the IoT.

Led by Prof Jack Ma, the team says it has created the fastest stretchable, integrated circuits and notes the development could act as a platform for wearable electronics – including those with biomedical applications.

The structure of the stretchable circuits was inspired by twisted pair telephone cables. Essentially, the researchers explain, the circuits contain two intertwining power transmission lines in repeating S curves.

This serpentine shape – formed in two layers with segmented metal blocks – gives the transmission lines the ability to stretch without affecting their performance. It also helps shield the lines from outside interference and to confine the electromagnetic waves flowing through them.

Currently, the team says its circuits can operate at frequencies of up to 40GHz. The circuits are 25µm thick; small enough to be effective in epidermal electronic systems, among many other applications, says the team, which notes a potential application could be the remote wireless monitoring of patients.

“We’ve found a way to integrate high frequency active transistors into a useful circuit that can be wireless,” said Prof Ma. “This is a platform; this opens the door to lots of new capabilities.”

Graham Pitcher

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