KAIST Develops Gallium Electronics Systems for Innovative Wearables

KAIST research team has invented “transformative electronics systems” which can change shapes and stretch flexibly, enabling novel design for wearable products. The new study was published in Science Advance in November.

According to KAIST, the transformative electronics consist of a special gallium metal structure, hermetically encapsulated and sealed within a soft silicone material, combined with electronics that are designed to be flexible and stretchable. The mechanical transformation of the electronic systems is specifically triggered by temperature change events controlled by the user.


(Image: KAIST)

"This new class of electronics will not only offer robust, convenient interfaces for use in both tabletop or handheld setups, but also allow seamless integration with the skin when applied onto our bodies," said Professor Jae-Woong Jeong, the research team leader.

Once the transformative electronic platform comes in contact with a human body, the gallium metal encapsulated inside the silicone changes to a liquid state and softens the whole electronic structure, making it stretchable, flexible, and wearable. The gallium metal then solidifies again once the structure is peeled off the skin, making the electronic circuits stiff and stable. When flexible electronic circuits were integrated onto these transformative platforms, it empowered them with the ability to become either flexible and stretchable or rigid.

This universal electronics platform allowed researchers to demonstrate applications that were highly adaptable and customizable, such as a multi-purpose personal electronics with variable stiffness and stretchability, a pressure sensor with tunable bandwidth and sensitivity, and a neural probe that softens upon implantation into brain tissue.

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