News

Two research innovations named to Science News list

1/10/2012 12:27:00 PM

Two innovations developed by Engineering at Illinois researchers made the “2011 Science News of the Year: Technology" list published recently by Science News.

John Rogers
John Rogers
Topping the Science News list was the work of John A. Rogers, professor of materials science and engineering (MatSE) and his group developing an ultrathin electronic device that can stretch and bend with human skin, opening the possibility that the human body may one day enter the digital world," according to the Science News summary.

"The patch’s electronics form a flexible net of wavy S-shaped curves that can stretch in any direction and still work. Two supple polymer sheets sandwich the business layer of the gadget and the whole thing sits on a film that sticks to skin. Developed as less obtrusive health monitors, versions of the device have been used to track vital signs. In a more lighthearted demonstration, the patch analyzed a person’s throat muscles as directions were spoken to move a cursor in a computer game."

Nancy Sottos, Scott White, and Jeffrey Moore
Nancy Sottos, Scott White, and Jeffrey Moore
The research on self-healing electronics by Scott R. White (aerospace engineering), Nancy R. Sottos (MatSE), and Jeffrey S. Moore (chemistry) was also featured on this year's list.

According to Science News, the lithium-ion battery that the research group has developed may improve the life span and safety of today’s energy-storage technologies. including rechargeable lithium-ion batteries power cell phones, laptops and other portable electronics. The team previously developed a system for self-healing polymer materials and decided to adapt their technique for conductive systems. They dispersed tiny microcapsules, as small as 10 microns in diameter, on top of a gold line functioning as a circuit. As a crack propagates, the microcapsules break open and release the liquid metal contained inside. The liquid metal fills in the gap in the circuit, restoring electrical flow. (More information on the research is available at http://www.ae.illinois.edu/news/article.html?id=1487.)
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