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UCLA Engineers Create Stretchable Polymer Light-Emitting Device

09 August 2011

Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have demonstrated an intrinsically stretchable polymer light-emitting device.

According to UCLA, they developed a simple process to fabricate the transparent devices using single-walled carbon nanotube polymer composite electrodes. The interpenetrating networks of nanotubes and the polymer matrix in the surface layer of the composites lead to low sheet resistance, high transparency, high compliance and low surface roughness. UCLA add that the metal-free devices can be linearly stretched up to 45 percent and the composite electrodes can be reversibly stretched by up to 50 percent with little change in sheet resistance.

The devices have been designed to be either flexible, meaning they can be bent, or stretchable, containing a discrete LED chip interconnected with stretchable electrodes. Because the devices are fabricated by roll lamination of two composite electrodes that sandwich an emissive polymer layer, they uniquely combine mechanical robustness and the ability for large-strain deformation, due to the shape-memory property of the composite electrodes.

UCLA explain that stretchable electronics are an emerging class of modern electronic materials that can bend and stretch, and they have the potential to be used in a wide range of applications, including wearable electronics, ""smart skins"" and minimally invasive biomedical devices that can move with the body.