North Carolina State University researchers have created conductive wires that are less susceptible to breaking and tearing. The wires, which could be used for headphones, phone chargers, or electronic textiles, can be stretched up to eight times their original length while still functioning.
They are made using a thin tube of elastic polymer filled with a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium, which is an efficient conductor of electricity. Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Dr. Michael Dickey, said:
Previous efforts to create stretchable wires focus on embedding metals or other electrical conductors in elastic polymers, but that creates a trade-off. Increasing the amount of metal improves the conductivity of the composite, but diminishes its elasticity. Our approach keeps the materials separate, so you have maximum conductivity without impairing elasticity. In short, our wires are orders of magnitude more stretchable than the most conductive wires, and at least an order of magnitude more conductive than the most stretchable wires currently in the literature.