Recently, engineers in a variety of institutions have been making great progress in the field of flexible electronics. A variety of devices have been made, including completely flexible body-worn sensors. While a great deal of the components have indeed been created to be flexible, integrated circuits and the transistors that they’re made of have had to remain rigid.
Now, researchers at Tufts University have developed completely flexible transistors from linen thread. This will allow for completely flexible devices made of thread that can be integrated into clothing, worn directly on the skin, or even used in electronic medical implants, including ones that can attach to a beating heart.
Large numbers of the thread-based transistors (TBTs) can be made into logic circuits and integrated circuits that can perform common electronic functions. Pre-existing flexible sensors can be used alongside flexible circuits to provide completely flexible solutions.
The Tufts team has already combined thread-based sodium and ammonium ion sensors with an integrated circuit, allowing them to measure these biomarkers using a completely flexible device.
The flexible transistors can be manufactured without requiring a clean room and using a relatively inexpensive process. “In laboratory experiments, we were able to show how our device could monitor changes in sodium and ammonium concentrations at multiple locations,” said Rachel Owyeung, a graduate student at Tufts University School of Engineering and first author of the study. “Theoretically, we could scale up the integrated circuit we made from the TBTs to attach a large array of sensors tracking many biomarkers, at many different locations using one device.”
Study in journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces: Highly Flexible Transistor Threads for All-Thread Based Integrated Circuits and Multiplexed Diagnostics
Flashbacks: Fully Flexible and Wireless Body Monitoring Sensors; Flexible Body Monitor Measures ECG, Breathing, Heart Rate Continuously for Weeks; Wireless, Flexible Body Sensors for Monitoring Premature Babies; Flexible LED Sensor Monitors Blood-Oxygenation Levels Through Skin; Highly Flexible and Adhesive Electronic Body Monitoring Patch