From the famous Lego bricks to the ‘smart’ devices of the future, the step is shorter than you think: the new universal assembly technique developed to make the construction of soft and sensory robots is inspired by the most loved game by young and old wearables much easier and faster. The result, published in the journal Nature, was obtained by a group of researchers led by the Nanyang University of Technology in Singapore and promises to greatly accelerate the spread of all those flexible and extendable devices, starting with those that track physical activity or monitor parameters related to health.
Flexible devices are assembled from different components made of different materials. However, the commercial glues used today often break easily or do not allow adequate transmission of mechanical and electrical signals between the various parts. To overcome this problem, researchers led by Ying Jiang took inspiration from the classic Lego bricks to create a universal interface that can be applied to any component of a device: the various parts will then be joined together simply by pressing them together for about 10 seconds , just like you do with buildings.
The innovative interface is composed of metallic nanoparticles (gold or silver) evaporated to form a robust nanostructure encapsulated in a soft material commonly used for this kind of devices. The tests carried out have demonstrated excellent performance: the sensors built with the ‘Lego technique’ withstand an elongation of up to seven times their length without breaking, and the interface has proved to be 60 times more resistant than traditional glues, continuing to transmit efficient electrical signals.
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