Tag Archives: Flexible

Researchers Developed New Efficient, Thin, and Flexible Cooling Device

Engineers and scientists from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and SRI International, California, have created a thin flexible device that could keep smartphones and laptop computers cool and prevent overheating. The component is based on the electrocaloric effect – a phenomenon where the temperature of material changes when an electric field is applied to it. The research has been published in Science.

Thin, flexible cooling device
Thin, flexible cooling device

The system’s flexibility also allows it to be used in wearable electronics, robotic systems, and new types of personalized cooling systems. It is the first demonstration of a solid-state cooling device based on the electrocaloric effect. The method devised by UCLA and SRI researchers is very energy-efficient. It uses a thin polymer film that transfers heat from the heat source – a battery or a processor – to a heat sink, and alternates contact between the two by switching on and off the electric voltage.

Because the polymer film is very flexible, the system can be used in devices with complex shapes or moving surfaces. Body tracking wearable devices can easily accommodate this flexible cooling device. Such cooling pad could keep a person comfortable in a hot office and thus lower the electricity consumption for air conditioning. Or it could be placed in a shoe to keep a runner comfortable while running in the sun. It’s like a personal air conditioner.

The tendency of flexible electronics to overheat remains a major challenge for engineers. The cooling systems in larger devices like air conditioners and refrigerators, which use vapor compression, are just too large for mobile electronics. The new cooling device produces a specific cooling power of 2.8 watts per gram and a COP of 13. This is more efficient and compact than the existing surface-mountable solid-state cooling technologies, opening a path to using the technology for a variety of practical applications.

Roy Kornbluh, an SRI research engineer, said,

The development of practical efficient cooling systems that do not use chemical coolants that are potent greenhouse gases is becoming even more important as developing nations increase their use of air conditioning.

Researchers Developed Hybrid 3D Printing Method To Make Flexible Wearable Devices

Wearable electronic devices that intend to track and measure the body’s movements must be soft enough to flex and stretch to accommodate every body-movement. But, integrating rigid electronics on skin-like flexible materials has proven to be challenging. Clearly, Such components cannot stretch like soft materials can, and this mismatch frequently causes wearable devices to fail. Recently scientists solved this problem by developing a new method called hybrid 3D printing.

Making wearble devices using Hybrid 3D Printing method
Making wearable devices using Hybrid 3D Printing method

A collaboration between the Wyss Institute, Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Air Force Research Laboratory, has resulted in developing hybrid 3D printing method. It combines soft, electrically conductive inks, and matrix materials with rigid electronics into a uniformly stretchable device. Alex Valentine, a Staff Engineer at the Wyss Institute says,

With this technique, we can print the electronic sensor directly onto the material, digitally pick-and-place electronic components, and print the conductive interconnects that complete the electronic circuitry required to ‘read’ the sensor’s data signal in one fell swoop.

To make the circuits and the flexible layers, the researchers use thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), both pure and with silver flakes. The method is quite easy to understand. As both the substrate and the electrodes contain TPU, they firmly adhere to one another while they are co-printed layer-by-layer. After the solvent evaporates completely, both of the inks harden, forming an integrated system that is both flexible and stretchable.

As the ink and substrate are 3D-printed, the scientists have complete control over where and how the conductive features are patterned. Thus they can design circuits to create soft electronic devices of nearly every size and shape. The hybrid 3D printing method enables development of flexible, durable wearable devices that move with the body.

A ring that is made using flexible conductingmaterial
A ring that is made using flexible conducting materials

Conductive materials exhibit changes in their electrical conductivity when stretched. Soft sensors, that detect movements, are made of those materials and are coupled with a programmable microcontroller to process those data. The microcontroller also transmits the data to communicate in a human-understandable way. As a proof-of-concept, the team created two devices – a wearable device that indicates how much the wearer’s arm is bending and a pressure sensor in the shape of a person’s left foot.

Watch the video to know about them,

Cheap ARM Cortex-m0 MCU Printed on Plastic Costs as low as 0.01$

Flexible electronics is one of the emerging technologies with the rise of connected things in IoT age. This increases the need of low cost electronics to use.

Photo Courtesy of PragmatiIC

PragmatIC the specialized company in low cost flexible electronics wants to enable trillions of “smart objects” to sense and communicate with their environment, but the problem is: to turn ordinary objects —like clothing, documents, or packaging of consumer goods— into smart objects, the price needed for this is far below the cheapest silicon chip. Moreover, the thickness of silicon represents another obstacle to integrate electronics seamlessly into products. The PragmatIC’s approach tries to solve these problems.

Photo Courtesy of PragmatiIC

Pragmatic print electronics on a piece of 10-µm-thick plastic which is thinner than a human hair.

PING (Printed Intelligent NFC Game cards and packaging) and a bottle with illuminating brand are examples of use cases of Pragmatic solution.

Back to the title of this news, PlasticARM is the new project started 2 years earlier in collaboration with ARM to implement a fully functional 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 MCU on 10-µm-thick flexible plastic.

Image Source: Charbax

Charbax from ARMDevices.net made an interview with the CEO, Scott, during IDTechEx Show. Scott said that the last version of PlasticARM is printed on 1 square CM area and the next version will have the half size.

Cris —a VP Technology in ARM— holding Plastic ARM. Image Source: Charbax’s interview

Source: ARMdevices

Record-setting flexible phototransistor revealed


Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have revealed a unique phototransistor that is flexible and faster and more responsive than any similar phototransistor.

The innovative phototransistor could improve the performance of myriad products — ranging from digital cameras, night-vision goggles and smoke detectors to surveillance systems and satellites — that rely on electronic light sensors. Integrated into a digital camera lens, for example, it could reduce bulkiness and boost both the acquisition speed and quality of video or still photos.

Record-setting flexible phototransistor revealed – [Link]