Researchers reporting in ACS Central Science have created stretchable, degradable semiconductors that could someday discover applications in health and environmental control.
Semiconductors that are essential elements of nearly all computers and electronic gadgets have properties somewhere between conductors and resistors. Most semiconductors are fabricated from silicon or other inflexible inorganic materials. Scientists have tried making flexible, degradable semiconductors utilizing different approaches, however, the products both did not break down completely or had diminished electrical performance when stretched. Zhenan Bao and colleagues wished to see if they could resolve these issues by combining a rubbery organic polymer with a semiconducting one.
To make their new material, the researchers synthesized and combined the two degradable polymers, which self-assembled into semiconducting nanofibers deposited in an elastic matrix. Thin films made of those fibers could be stretched to twice their regular size without cracking or compromising electrical efficiency. When put in an acid, the brand new material degraded utterly within ten days; however, it will doubtless take much longer in the human body, Bao says. The semiconductor was further non-toxic to human cells rising on the material in a petri dish. Per the researchers, that is the first instance of a material that simultaneously holds the three qualities of semiconductivity, intrinsic stretchability, and full degradability.