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Nat Commun. 2017 Jun 21;8:15894. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15894.

Self-assembled three dimensional network designs for soft electronics.

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Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.
Department of Robotics Engineering, Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST), Daegu 42988, South Korea.
Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA.
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA.
Department of NanoEngineering, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.
Department of Engineering Mechanics, Center for Mechanics and Materials, AML, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.
Institute of High Performance Computing, Singapore 138632, Singapore.
School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Yonsei University, Seoul 03722, Republic of Korea.
Department of Electronics Convergence Engineering, Kwangwoon University, Seoul 01897, Republic of Korea.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Pusan National University, Busan 46241, Republic of Korea.
Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA.
School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Gwangju 61005, Republic of Korea.
Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Neurological Surgery, Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology, McCormick School of Engineering and Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA.


Low modulus, compliant systems of sensors, circuits and radios designed to intimately interface with the soft tissues of the human body are of growing interest, due to their emerging applications in continuous, clinical-quality health monitors and advanced, bioelectronic therapeutics. Although recent research establishes various materials and mechanics concepts for such technologies, all existing approaches involve simple, two-dimensional (2D) layouts in the constituent micro-components and interconnects. Here we introduce concepts in three-dimensional (3D) architectures that bypass important engineering constraints and performance limitations set by traditional, 2D designs. Specifically, open-mesh, 3D interconnect networks of helical microcoils formed by deterministic compressive buckling establish the basis for systems that can offer exceptional low modulus, elastic mechanics, in compact geometries, with active components and sophisticated levels of functionality. Coupled mechanical and electrical design approaches enable layout optimization, assembly processes and encapsulation schemes to yield 3D configurations that satisfy requirements in demanding, complex systems, such as wireless, skin-compatible electronic sensors.

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