Mechanically transformative electronics, sensors, and implantable devices

Traditionally, electronics have been designed with static form factors to serve designated purposes. This approach has been an optimal direction for maintaining the overall device performance and reliability for targeted applications. However, electronics capable of changing their shape, flexibility, and stretchability will enable versatile and accommodating systems for more diverse applications. Here, we report design concepts, materials, physics, and manufacturing strategies that enable these reconfigurable electronic systems based on temperature-triggered tuning of mechanical characteristics of device platforms. We applied this technology to create personal electronics with variable stiffness and stretchability, a pressure sensor with tunable bandwidth and sensitivity, and a neural probe that softens upon integration with brain tissue. Together, these types of transformative electronics will substantially broaden the use of electronics for wearable and implantable applications. Nearly all modern electronics, including both conventional rigid consumer electronics and emerging soft electronics (1–6), have invariant mechanical properties to serve specific purposes. Flat, rigid e...

What is it like learning to surf at URBNSURF, Australia’s first surf park? menu CRE

Melbourne’s first urban surf park, URBNSURF, opens this January in Tullamarine, to great excitement among the surfing community. The water is tropical-coloured, like a Fiji island, and calm. Curves of white concrete encircle the water, and in the background the airport hums. All is still. Then, from the far edge of the azure water, a wave builds, grows and rolls over in a perfect arc, exposing its frothy white underbelly. The people watching shout and laugh excitedly, slap each other’s backs. How exactly the waves are made is a secret. But, explains Andrew Ross, the founder of URBNSURF, it is like dominoes. Underneath the lagoon there are 46 “modules” and under them lies a series of rectangle boxes. “Imagine those boxes lined up like a series of dominoes,” says Ross, but instead of them lined up back to back, they are edge to edge. “When we create waves, they move out to the left in a sequence, and then out to the right in a sequence.” The technology gives more control than the sea – obviously – and waves can be personalised to the surfer. Ross says, “We can vary the waves and change the peeling angle that the swells come out at – change the height, change the speed, change the ...