Iowa State Metal Research Allows Connectivity in Ways Never Thought Of

AMES, Iowa- Technology developed at Iowa State University could bring the term connectivity to a whole new realm. A team of researchers led by Martin Thuo have developed a way to take alloy metal, liquify that, then turn to a paste like substance which can be painted onto all sorts of surfaces.

The paste can be scratched, pressed, or activated into a tiny wire which conducts electricity.

According to an Iowa State University News Release applications could be including sensors to measure the structural integrity of a building or the growth of crops. The technology was also tested in paper-based remote controls that read changes in electrical currents when the paper is curved. Engineers also tested the technology by making electrical contacts for solar cells and by screen printing conductive lines on gelatin, a model for soft biological tissues, including the brain.

“So once you have those particles suspended in a carrier fluid for a for example hear you put them on the wall, we can put it on material like Jell-O, said Thuo. “It’s very soft we can put it on plants we can put it on human tissue like your skin and we do this by the same process we use for regular printing or whatever screen printing the tissues for printing T-shirts.”

Thuo, serves as an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Iowa State, and an associate of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory/ He is also co-founder of the Ames startup SAFI-Tech Inc. that’s commercializing the liquid-metal particles.

Thuo and the team from his lab at ISU recently published in the Journal for Advanced Functional Materials.

“Think about electronics are becoming more and more flexible all the forms we have are very rigid hard to bend imagine if you had that you could fold rolled it out,” said Thuo. “When you needed it occupies less space is more lighter more flexible and it’s more conform to our own hands.”

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