The scientists in Professor Heiko O. Jacobs’s team at Ilmenau University of Technology have coined the now globally used term ‘metamorphic electronics’ for the stretchable boards. The printed circuit boards developed by the team consist of not just one single, but multiple metallization layers. The stretchability is achieved through a distributed transistor array, which allows individual points on the surface of the array to be electrically controlled. Together with elastically deformable substrates, this results in a currently unique stretchable connection and assembly technology. This technology could make it possible, for example, to realize a stretchable and inflatable lighting structure, a microphone array which morphs into a sphere, i.e. into a spherical shape, and a spherical touchpad. The journal ‘Nature Communications ’, an offshoot of highly respected journal ‘ Nature ’, has published a summary of the research results.

The research was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of the project entitled ‘ Stretchable Multilayer Printed Circuit Boards: Fabrication, Surface Mount Challenge, Fundamental Research, and Applications ’.