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Imagine the day when you’ll unroll or unfold your smartphone to answer it. If things move to plan, this present day could also be earlier than you're thinking that. And we’re not just talking flip-phones here, but smartphones where the actual screens are flexible, not just the handset.
The promise of technology as intelligent as our smartphones which will simply be folded up sort of a piece of paper sounds amazing. So what are the challenges in making flexible technology?
To answer this we'd like to know what's meant by flexible. will we need something that may be deformed without breaking (so it’s okay if you sit on your phone, because it will only bend and not break)? Maybe we would like to roll it up into a cylinder with the convenience of rolling a bit of paper? or maybe to fold it just like the Galaxy Fold?
These are very different scenarios, with each putting a greater performance requirement on the device and also the materials within. Are the materials brittle? Or are they inherently flexible? And once they are bent, rolled, flexed or folded, do they still work the way they did when flat? These are the questions many scientists and engineers are asking. Enter the globe of materials science, mixed with a dose of advanced manufacturing.
Beyond the substrate, there are still challenges for the electronic materials themselves. Modern electronics are built on metals and ceramics that need very high temperatures to be fabricated into electrical circuits, and aren't ideal for bending.
Polymers like Nylon, Teflon and polyester are inherently flexible and may be bent, folded or rolled. But polymers are usually insulators (they don’t conduct electricity) and that they really don't like being heated too high.
That is why efforts are being made to engineer polymers that are conductive (conducting polymers). Being conductive implies that the polymers can transport electrical charge with ease - like your charging cable carries electricity from the power outlet to your portable device’s battery. In parallel engineers are changing the way the prevailing and new materials are manufactured.
But, should we bend technology?
Tackling these technical challenges of materials and manufacturing seems accessible. But why can we want flexible technology?
Sure there are some of us that dream of a flat panel TV that may be rolled and unrolled, mounting anywhere we like. Consider it as an electronic poster being persisted on your bedroom wall and versatile TVs are almost here in 2018 LG showcased a 65 inch roll-able TV.
Beyond this there are some neat advantages to flexible technology. there's an enormous drive towards integrating electronics with biology in the ultimate wearable computer. As we all know , our skin (and everything contained within it) is to some extent soft, flexible and elastic. Having flexible technology would allow our wearable computers to seamlessly integrate with us. this may be done so well that we won’t realise we are wearing it.
Glass as a substrate, even though flexible, won’t fulfil the need to interface with biology. This is often because it lacks the softness and deformability to react to the body’s movement.
But almost like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the electronic contact lens project has been paused, the first results from testing aren't up to scratch at the moment.
But sometime within the (near) future i think we'll have flexible technologies in our daily lives. This may represent major breakthroughs within the materials and manufacturing wont to create them. Most enjoyable is by achieving this, opportunities will open to interface the physical and cyber worlds to a level we are able to today only imagine.
Amazing man from me 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐👍
I would love that kind of phone......
Thanks ,It was really interest to know.