Stanford engineers developing flexible electronics with carbon nanotubes

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Engineers are using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) instead of rigid silicon in an attempt to build flexible electronic devices, such as e-readers, that could be folded up or rolled away.

Reliability has, until now, been an issue but a team at Stanford University has developed a process to create flexible chips that mimic silicon circuitry.

“This is the first time anyone has designed flexible CNT circuits that have both high immunity to electrical noise and low power consumption, “ said Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford.

In principle, CNTs should be ideal for making flexible electronic circuitry. The carbon filaments have the physical strength to take the wear and tear of bending, and the electrical conductivity to perform any electronic task.

But until this recent work from the Stanford team, flexible CNTs circuits didn’t have the reliability and power-efficiency of rigid silicon chips.