Electronics become bendable, ductile, organic and transparent

transparent-speaker_500px_sqBendable, ductile and organic. These are terms not readily associated with our traditional view of electronics. But chances are that this classic image of electronics will soon change. Why? Well, last week scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences introduced a bendable and ductile loudspeaker.

This transparent loudspeaker is filled with a salt water gel and works according to the principle of ion conduction. The loudspeaker’s stuffing consists of two layers of conductive gel, separated by a transparent rubber membrane. An alternating current is introduced between these layers. The alternating load makes the rubber membrane contract and expand at the rhythm of the alternating current. The loudspeaker is transparent and ductile and has a frequency range between 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Since the system works on the basis of ion conduction, there is no change in the resistance, regardless of the form that the loudspeaker takes on.

This new technology makes it possible to add electronics to existing, flexible materials as well as creating more ductile electronics. In other words, the possibilities are not limited to loudspeakers. Potential applications include the development of artificial muscles or bionic implants. Another possibility is to use the technology in windows, since it is transparent. Give free rein to your imagination and tell us which electronics you would like to see made flexible and transparent!

The results of the study were presented in the  August 30, 2013 edition of Science magazine.