Belgian researchers have developed the first optical circuit that uses interconnections that are bendable and stretchable.
The new interconnections, made of poly-dimethylsiloxane (PDMS), guide light along their path even when stretched up to 30 percent, and bend around an object. In addition, by integrating the interconnections into a circuit, the researchers created a miniature stretchable, bendable link that could be incorporated into optical communications systems.
"To our knowledge, this is indeed the first truly bendable, stretchable optical link with these miniature dimensions," says Ghent University researcher Jeroen Missinne.
The connector consists of a transparent core through which the light travels, surrounded by another transparent layer of PDMS with a lower refractive index. The design traps light in the guide's core, causing it to propagate along its length.
"We were surprised that stretching had so little influence on the waveguides and also that their mechanical performance was so good," Missinne says.
The researchers say the optical link could be used to build networks of wearable body sensors, moving machine parts, and deformable consumer electronics.
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