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Controlled 3D Buckling of Silicon Nanowires for Stretchable Electronics

Yong Zhu's picture

F.Xu, W. Lu and Y. Zhu, ACS Nano, 2011, 5 (1), pp 672–678.

An interview by ACS Nano (Episode 42: January 2011),


Silicon (Si) nanowire (NW) coils were fabricated on elastomeric substrates by a controlled buckling process. Si NWs were first transferred onto prestrained and ultraviolet/ozone (UVO)-treated poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) substrates and buckled upon release of the prestrain. Two buckling modes (the in-plane wavy mode and the three-dimensional coiled mode) were found; a transition between them was achieved by controlling the UVO treatment of PDMS. Structural characterization revealed that the NW coils were oval-shaped. The oval-shaped NW coils exhibited very large stretchability up to the failure strain of PDMS (104% in our study). Such a large stretchability relies on the effectiveness of the coil shape in mitigating the maximum local strain, with a mechanics that is similar to the motion of a coil spring. Single NW devices based on coiled NWs were demonstrated with a nearly constant electrical response in a large strain range. In addition to the wavy shape, the coil shape represents an effective architecture in accommodating large tension, compression, bending, and twist, which may find important applications for stretchable electronics and other stretchable technologies. 

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