New stretchy, liquid electronics cables stretch up to a mind-boggling eight times their original length

// December 20th, 2012 // Futuristic Technology


New wiring stretches up to eight times its original length

Researchers at North Carolina State University have produced a new cable material that stretches an order of magnitude more stretchy than existing stretchy wires.  Think of the possibilities – tiny charging cables or headphone cables that are easy to carry around but easily stretch to crazy lengths when needed (and with the decreased possibility that someone could sneak up behind you and strangle you with one).

The basic construction of the new super-stretchy wires is an elastic tube filled with a highly conductive liquid metal alloy.  To make the wires, researchers start with a thin tube made of an extremely elastic polymer and then fill the tube with a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium, which is an efficient conductor of electricity.

Dr. Michael Dickey, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper on the research explained:

“Previous efforts to create stretchable wires focus on embedding metals or other electrical conductors in elastic polymers, but that creates a trade-off. Increasing the amount of metal improves the conductivity of the composite, but diminishes its elasticity. Our approach keeps the materials separate, so you have maximum conductivity without impairing elasticity. In short, our wires are orders of magnitude more stretchable than the most conductive wires, and at least an order of magnitude more conductive than the most stretchable wires currently in the literature.”

Sources: Advanced Functional Materials, North Carolina State University
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