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article imageNew stretchy material conducts electricity

By Tim Sandle     Sep 27, 2013 in Science
A new stretchy material has been developed which conducts electricity. The material was used to manufacture a transparent loud speaker.
The new material is made of salty gel and rubbery tape (described as 'Jell-O like'). What is special about it is that it can work as a completely transparent loudspeaker, with the ability to carry a current. Previously, transparent electronics have relied upon materials such as metallic wires, carbon nanotubes and graphene sheets to conduct electricity.
To avoid the use of wires, the researchers used rubber tape sandwiched between gels swollen with salt water. When a voltage is applied to the material, positive charges line up on one side of the rubber sheet and negative charges line up on the other. The opposite charges attract, squeezing the rubber layer and transfer the charge.
To test the device, the scientists constructed a transparent loudspeaker that produces sound over the entire audible range. This is shown in the video.
The researchers behind the development hope that one day it can be merged with biological tissues to make artificial muscles or skin. The research was conducted at Harvard University and it has been published in an article in the journal Science. The paper is titled "Stretchable, transparent, ionic conductors."
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