New materials are being invented all the time and they all have their own impressive characteristics. But a new material out of NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology and NUS Materials Science and Engineering may blow them all out of the water.
The novel invention is stretchable, self-healing, and even illuminating. Oh, and did we mention it's also electronic?
The material, called HELIOS (Healable, Low-field Illuminating Optoelectronic Stretchable) can be used in both wearables and robotics.
“Conventional stretchable optoelectronic materials require high voltage and high frequencies to achieve visible brightness, which limits portability and operating lifetimes. Such materials are also difficult to apply safely and quietly on human-machine interfaces,” explained Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee, who is also from NUS Electrical and Computer Engineering, N.1 Institute for Health and the Hybrid Integrated Flexible Electronic Systems programme.
Tee and a team of five NUS researchers sought to overcome these challenges. They began by developing a material that had very high dielectric permittivity and self-healing properties. They did this by combining a unique blend of fluoroelastomer and surfactant.
This resulted in a material that enabled devices to turn on at voltages that are four times lower and achieve illumination that is more than 20 times brighter. HELIOS can also achieve a longer operating lifetime thanks to its low power consumption.
It is safe for use in human-machine interfaces and can be powered wirelessly. Finally, last but not least, the material is resistant to tears and punctures since the reversible bonds between its molecules can be easily reformed.
“Light is an essential mode of communication between humans and machines. As humans become increasingly dependent on machines and robots, there is huge value in using HELIOS to create ‘invincible’ light-emitting devices or displays that are not only durable but also energy-efficient. This could generate long-term cost savings for manufacturers and consumers, reduce electronic waste and energy consumption, and in turn, enable advanced display technologies to become both wallet and environmentally friendly," Tee concluded.