Technology metals could serve as a packaging for sensitive electronics.
An international team of scientists from North Carolina State University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University has developed a novel material that does not allow liquids or gases to pass through it, while being highly elastic. The combination of these properties is a game changer, according to Michael Dickey, co-author of the study describing the new material, pusblished in Science. Until now, a choice had to be made between impermeability and flexibility, he said.
The basis of the new development is a compound of gallium and indium (EGaIn). This is a so-called eutectic alloy, whose melting point is lower than that of its constituents and which has a uniform structure. A thin film is made from the EGaIn, which the scientists then coat with an elastic polymer. The inside of the polymer is covered with tiny glass spheres that ensure that the EGaIn is distributed evenly.
Areas of application for the material are now to be found with partners from industry. For example, the material could be used to make “soft” batteries for portable electronics and other devices. Such a battery is also being worked on at North Carolina State University, where gallium and indium also play an important role (we reported).
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