Researchers in nanotechnology keep bringing us ever smaller, ever more versatile devices, and the latest invention is a transistor which can be folded or otherwise deformed, while continuing to do its job.
Shinya Aikawa and fellow researchers at the University of Tokyo and Tokyo University of Science have been able to make deformable transistors from carbon nanotubes that are both incredibly thin (just 15 micrometers thick), and that can also be folded or crumpled while still working, according to Discovery News. And as an added plus, these transistors are also transparent.
The transistors can stand up to repeated folding or crumpling, but are reported to have some loss of performance after about 100 times.
"We fabricated polymer-laminated, transparent, all-carbon-nanotube field-effect transistors (CNT-FETs), making use of the flexible yet robust nature of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). All components of the FET (active channel, electrodes, dielectric layer, and substrate) consist of carbon-based materials. The use of a plastic substrate that is considerably thinner than those used in other flexible CNT-FETs allowed our devices to be highly deformable without degradation of electrical properties. Using this approach, flexible, transparent CNT-FET devices able to withstand a 1 mm bending radius were realized." - Applied Physics Letters
If this technology can make it from the lab into our gadgets, at some point we may be able to have electronic devices which can take quite a bit of abuse and still work. And that might make a big difference in the number of new gadgets that need to be manufactured each year just to replace the broken ones.