A team of MIT engineers recently developed a process that may become the key to stretchable electronics. They finally found a way to get over the rigidity of computer chips located in the core of all electronic devices. The aim is to make flexible, more multi-functional electronic devices.
The new process is known as “remote epitaxy,” where a thin film of semiconducting material is grown on a thick, large-sized wafer that’s made up of a similar material covered in an intermediate graphene layer. When the semiconducting film is ready, it can be peeled off from graphene cover wafer and reused anywhere else.
Production of such thin semiconducting films might be extremely costly, however, depending on the kind of material it is extracted from. So, the team was able to keep the costs under control while extracting as many numbers of thin semiconducting films as they needed from the underlying wafer.
The team also states that they can produce freestanding films of any kind of material via remote epitaxy. Moreover, they can create flexible, multi-functional electronic devices by stacking films extracted from different materials.
The engineers believe the process can be used in the production of stretchable electronic films for various purposes like solar-powered skin or electronic fabrics.
An associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, Jeehwan Kim, says, “You can use this technique to mix and match any semiconducting material to have new device functionality, in one flexible chip. You can make electronics in any shape.”
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