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August 1, 2011 / David Bleeker

Wet Electronics Open Door to New Possibilities

Today, electronic devices of all types must be protected from not only submersion in water, but even from humidity in the air. Medical implants, for instance, must be hermetically sealed to secure them from shorting out. By harnessing the synergy between water-compatible hydrogels and liquid metals, NCSU researchers herald a new era of smarter moisture-compatible electronic devices.

As you might imagine, materials that can happily be submerged without dissolving or shorting out their circuitry are few and far between. And those that can—such as plastics—have inferior electrical characteristics, making them too slow reacting for medical implants and other mission-critical electronics that must work rain or shine. However, by combining liquid metals with polyelectrolyte hydrogels, which have the consistency of Jell-O, a new class of fast submersible gadgets is on the horizon. [read more]


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