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New method for developing flexible nanowire electronics could yield ultrasensitive biosensors

In case you missed it, Stanford researchers have devised a new method of attaching electronic circuitry composed of nanowires to the surface of almost any shape on an object made of virtually any material. As Medgadget recently reported:

The electronics can attach to a surface and be released from it repeatedly without any damage. The researchers tested the nanowire electronics on a variety of materials including paper, textiles, plastics, glass, aluminum foil, and latex gloves. Potential applications of the circuitry include ultrasensitive biosensors that can be attached to organs like the heart and brain, flexible computer displays, and wearable electronics.

When developing the electronics, the researchers used a polymer layer 15 times thinner than plastic wrap to insulate and support the electronics mechanically. The polymer’s high level of flexibility enables it to conform to the shape of any object, explains Xiaolin Zheng, an engineering professor at Stanford who oversaw the research.

A Stanford release offers additional details about how researchers' approach allowed them to shape the nanowire electronics to fit any surface and attach to any material:

The key to the new method is coating the surface of the silicon wafer with a thin layer of nickel before fabricating the electronic circuitry. Nickel and silicon are both hydrophilic, or "water-loving," meaning when they are exposed to water after fabrication of nanowire devices is finished, the water easily penetrates between the two materials, detaching the nickel and the overlying electronics from the silicon wafer.

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