Flexible OLED displays lifted the ban. Not only did they show us that it is possible to develop electronic devices with a certain degree of flexibility, but they also showed something even more important: that this technology is useful if implemented where it can contribute to something.
The next natural step is to develop elastic electronic circuits that can coexist with these displays to allow us to design not only flexible displays but devices that can be used in entirely new usage scenarios.
Some research groups have been working on this idea for a long time, but have faced a challenge that is not easy to overcome: the need to design an elastic substrate that withstands the mechanical stress required by elongation without distortion or fracture.
This material must act as structural support for the electronic components to be placed on it, so it must also withstand the thermal stress caused by the photolithographic processes we currently use. The problem is, the elastic materials the researchers have used so far are very sensitive to heat.
The first elastic biometric device is now available
Fortunately, Samsung researchers found the solution to this biometric verification challenge. And they did so by attacking the root of the problem. Their proposal was published in the scientific journal ‘Science Advances’ and states that they have succeeded in designing an elastic polymeric compound that can act as a substrate and withstand severe mechanical elongation without breaking down and impeding the healing of this stress. original size.
Additionally, this new material is very resistant to thermal stress, making it compatible with the photolithographic processes we currently use. Two of the challenges in developing elastic electronics seem to have been resolved, but that’s not all.
The new material developed by these researchers is highly resistant to thermal stress, making it compatible with the photolithographic processes we currently use.
In their paper, these researchers also explain that they have designed electronic components that manage to withstand the mechanical stress required by elongation without deteriorating or losing their electrical properties. This technology is taking its first steps and there is no denying that much more remains to be done, but this innovation invites us to face the future of these devices with optimism.
In any case, we haven’t asked ourselves the most important question yet: On what device did they embed this technology? Its first proposal combines elastic substrate, a small, flexible OLED display, and a sensor in a single device that can measure and display the user’s heart rate in real-time.
This biometric device is quite compact and sticks directly to the user’s skin (you can see it in the cover photo of this article). According to its creators, it can expand to increase its surface by 30% without minimal distortion and supports 1000 extensions without hesitation.
This is just a prototype aimed at demonstrating the technical and commercial viability of this technology, but has confirmed along the way that biometric elastic devices allow us to perform seamless and more precise measurements than conventional ones due to their adhesion. it is possible to place them directly on our skin and in the ideal area (this prototype is located on the side of the wrist and on the radial artery).
Rayleigh’s criterion, he explained: The proximity of silicon’s physical boundary reminds us that this equation tells us how far we can go.
In addition, their flexibility makes them very comfortable so the user can use them while sleeping or exercising. After all, they can withstand the same mechanical stress as our skin. And the possibility to include their own flexible displays frees us from the need to send the information they collect to an external display such as our mobile phone.
As we can see, although this device from Samsung is only a prototype, it starts a very interesting path, because it places before us the possibility of developing more precise and less intrusive biometric devices. There is also the possibility that it has a positive impact on some people’s lives, which is always good news.
Samsung has confirmed that its aim is to develop this technology enough to enable large-scale production of such elastic biometric devices. But that’s not all. The researchers who designed this heart rate reader hope to develop other similar devices that can measure oxygen saturation, electrical activity of our body’s neuromuscular system, or blood pressure. He draws well, doesn’t he?