A team of engineers was recently successful in creation of a more thermally conductive and stretchable rubber that will pave a new path towards better development of flexible electronics and their inclusion in our regular lives. Thubber, as they like to call it, can be defined as a soft natured material that has microdroplets of liquid metal embedded in deformable silicon elastomer. The composite nature of this material permits thubber to attain its dual-nature properties of metal-like thermal conductivity and high elasticity. The liquid metal is quite capable of changing its shape with the rubber around it in order to maintain pathways for dispersion heat.
Normally, there is a balance between mechanical and thermal properties of soft dielectric materials, the higher the stretch ability of the material lower is its thermal conductivity. This balance comes from the kinetic theory of photon transport. Nevertheless. With respect to thubber, this restriction is bypassed as the liquid metal droplets’ thermal conductivity is dominated with electrons and not the photons and thus the droplets can easily deform with the matter surrounding it.
Thus, thubber shows that what researchers believe is an unmatched tradeoff between mechanical and thermal properties. Thubber is capable of stretching more than six times its original length and attain thermal conductivity that is fifty times of the base polymer. Along with it, it is electrically insulating despite presence of liquid metal droplets. Carmel Majidi, an associate professor from Carnegie Mellon University’s mechanical engineering department adds, “Our combination of high thermal conductivity and elasticity is especially critical for rapid heat dissipation in applications such as wearable computing and soft robotics, which require mechanical compliance and stretchable functionality.” These properties promise better applications and several new developments.
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