Love your tablet computer, but sometimes wish you just could roll it up like a newspaper and stick it away in your pocket?
Soon exactly this will be possible, thanks to a breakthrough in the technology which allows electronic gadgets to be folded up or bent.
Until now, these intricate computer components – thin plastic sheets of electronic circuits, similar to sheets of paper – were only available in very small quantities in laboratories and limited to certain types of devices.
But researchers at the University of Surrey are working with Philips to develop their ‘source-gated-transistor’ (SGT), a simple circuit which is likely to become much easier to manufacture for ‘smart’ gadgets.
Previously studies found that the technology could be applied to lots of different electronic designs, as long as they had an analogue basis, but through the most recent study has found that SGT technology can be applied to next-generation digital circuits.
SGTs control the electric current as it enters a semiconductor, which decreases the odds of circuit malfunction, improves energy efficiency and keeps fabrication costs to a minimum.
These properties make SGTs ideal for next-gen electronic devices, and could enable digital technologies to be incorporated into those built using flexible plastics or clothing textiles.
Other technologies might include ultra-lightweight and flexible gadgets which can be rolled up to save space when not in use, smart plasters, thinner than a human hair, that can wirelessly monitor the health of the wearer, low-cost electronic shopping tags for instant checkout, and disaster prediction sensors, used on buildings in regions that are at high risk of natural disasters.
Lead researcher Doctor Radu Sporea, of the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) at the University of Surrey, said: ‘These technologies involve thin plastic sheets of electronic circuits, similar to sheets of paper, but embedded with smart technologies.
‘Until now, such technologies could only be produced reliably in small quantities, and that confined them to the research lab.
‘However, with SGTs we have shown we can achieve characteristics needed to make these technologies viable, without increasing the complexity or cost of the design.’
Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and a co-author of the study, said: ‘This work is a classic example of academia working closely with industry for over two decades to perfect a concept which has wide-reaching applications across a variety of technologies.
‘Whilst SGTs can be applied to mainstream materials such as silicon, used widely in the production of current consumer devices, it is the potential to apply them to new materials such graphene that makes this research so crucial.’
‘By making these incredible devices less complex and implicitly very affordable, we could see the next generation of gadgets become mainstream much quicker than we thought.’
source: Dailymail UK