Imagine a tiny Smartphone which you can wrap around wrists or wear it on your clothing? What about running a bioassay to check out your health by just wiping your nose with a tissue? These scenarios might sound incredible right now but scientists are seriously working on making these possible!
If present research works do take a concrete shape then soon it will be time to bid adieu to stiff circuit boards with crammed chips, resistors and other components. Researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have recently invented an improved Carbon Nanotube technology by devising an energy-efficient and flexible hybrid circuit.
The uniqueness of the circuit is that it combines Carbon Nanotube thin film transistors with other thin film transistors comprising of indium, gallium and zinc oxide (IGZO). According to the research team, this is a perfect marriage. They feel this hybrid integration is one such technological evolution which will completely alter the way wearable devices or implantable medical equipments are designed.
Carbon Nanotube being highly transparent and flexible has great potential to emerge as futuristic electronic chip material. Further it will be possible to process such chips at a lower cost. So, if all goes well, Silicon chips will soon have to make way for nonconventional materials like Carbon Nanotube.
Apart from Carbon Nanotube few other new materials are slated to capture the wearable tech market. Samsung is gearing up for commercial Graphene production to better design flexible, wearable computers. Considering the company’s recent focus on curved watches and Smartphone its endeavor to search for flexible electronics material is quite understandable.
The company’s research team feels that Graphene is the perfect material which can be used in wearables, flexible displays and many other next gen electronic devices. The production of Graphene field-effect transistors (GFETs) is still at a nascent stage. However, considering the fact that this is an effort by one of the electronic giants, the company would surely make serious efforts to integrate GFETs into future wearable devices. Then, some researchers feel that plastic is another flexible material which also has potential to replace Silicon chips in near future.
Many of these ventures are yet in nascent stages. The only positive sign is that few big names are quite eager to invest in research work related to flexible electronics materials. In coming days, demand will peak up for more stretchable materials for wearable techs simply because these promise an entirely new and adjustable design concept.
Secondly, devices made of flexible materials might cost less too. Till date, manufacture of conventional semiconductors requires going through complex processes that often demand huge investments and sound infrastructure. With recent research work, analysts are quite hopeful of seeing a future when it will be possible to print flexible electronics on plastic film just like the way ink is printed on newspapers!
To sum it up, don’t expect any sudden wonder with silicon chips getting replaced by Graphene or Carbon Nanotube in a day! Many issues are yet to be addressed till flexible materials for wearable techs take a concrete shape.