Cellulose Nanofiber Composites Can Serve as Substrate for Flexible Electronics
Flexible electronics have many potential applications including malleable displays, solar cells, smart cards, radio frequency tags, medical implants, and wearable computers. Transparent films made from cellulose nanofibers, a renewable nanomaterial, have low thermal expansion and thus the potential to serve as a foundation for flexible electronics.
Forest Service researchers recently demonstrated the ability to transfer silicon nanomembranes onto flexible plastic substrates to create working thin-film transistors having a 12-gigahertz maximum oscillation frequency. Current work with high-speed, flexible electronic substrates uses plastics for the flexible substrate. These plastics typically have drawbacks, however, such as high thermal expansion coefficients. Transparent films made from cellulose nanofibers, a renewable material using the smallest workable particles of wood, have low thermal expansion, and thus, the potential to serve as a superior substrate for flexible electronics.
Researchers from the Forest Products Laboratory and University of Wisconsin, Madison, have demonstrated the first example of using cellulose nanofiber composite substrates for flexible electronics. Although some challenges remain, the cellulose nanofiber composite showed good chemical and thermal resistance, which is necessary for electronic fabrication, and the use of cellulose nanofibers as a sustainable component for high-speed flexible electronics is extremely promising.
Forest Service Partners