Flexible Gadgets: Science Fiction or Reality
Can you imagine dropping your i-phone or blackberry and it just bouncing back? No damage, no fuss, nothing wrong with the phone hitting the ground at all. The future of technology may be here sooner than you would think. This is the concept of flexible electronics. With these flexible materials we could create unbreakable phones, tables, and even clothing that is fully integrated with electronics. The possibilities become endless when you think about it. Scientists have moved one step closer into solving the mystery of how to make this possible. Men in white suits from a Microsystem research group have created a brand new method for transferring electronics with flexible technology. This is produced on a rigid silicon surface and then integrated into the new flexible materials being constructed.
The potential for medical applications is astonishing. You could create microscopic materials that could monitor nerves, organs, and so much more. If this technology could be integrated with stems cells the potential grows so much further. Within the next 10 years, as the technology develops, we would be able to discover a whole host of ailments long before they become problems within people. Essentially, the medical field itself could be revolutionized in the process. Rather than treating people after they are sick this would allow you at home to diagnose medical problems from the comfort of your own couch.
Imagine the potential of these microscopic chips in your clothes. You could bring up a visual screen from within your shirt; connect to your email, send a message, research information, surf the web, and so much more. Even better yet imagine these materials being used in the very paint that coats your home. You could turn any area of your house into a big screen tv, move files to a different display, the potential for multitasking is enormous. Your whole house becomes an electronic device, capable of far more than just your simple smart phone. This is the sort of future that can quickly become reality if we embrace new technology and discover creative applications. The applications in the fields of material science are fascinating.
This technology is not just being developed in one place either. There are several universities worldwide that are rapidly making advancements in material science. At the Sun Yat-sun University in China, they utilize intense pressure and heat that vaporizes silicon monoxide powder. They then rapidly cool it which turns the particles into a woven nanowire. Essentially, what this means, is when components of these devices are produced in this manner they become flexible. This would allow you to roll up your cell phone and place it into your pocket. While this technology is still young, researchers will continue to develop its capabilities further.
One of the big issues in making science a reality is cost and scalability. It is one thing to be able to make a new technology but a different thing entirely to make it cost effective. This usually involves years of refinement of techniques involved and sometimes new technologies themselves are developed in the process. The other main issue is scalability. You have to be able to produce these products in large scale in order to make it feasible for mass consumption.
While scientists work to overcome these hurdles we must wait and see what the future holds. I am excited and I hope you are as well.
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