Dr. Orlin Velev, INVISTA Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, is part of a research team that has developed a soft memory device that functions well in wet environments. Their work opens the door to a new generation of biocompatible electronic devices.
Conventional electronics are typically made of rigid, brittle materials and function poorly in moisture. Prototypes of the device have not yet been optimized to hold significant amounts of memory, but they work well in environments that would be hostile to traditional electronics. The devices are made using a liquid alloy of gallium and indium metals set into water-based gels, similar to gels used in biological research.
The device’s ability to function in wet environments, and the biocompatibility of the gels, mean that this technology holds promise for interfacing electronics with biological systems – such as cells, enzymes or tissue.
As part of National Science Foundation grant awarded to NC State, Velev will explore in detail how small particles combine in liquid and what strategies can be employed to control how these particles form new materials with unique properties and functions.
Velev was recently named 2011 Innovator of the Year by the NC State Office of Technology Transfer. That honor recognizes work Velev and the Velev Research Group have done in discovering and developing a shear nanospinning method for creating polymer microrods and nanofibers. Applications for the research include new biomedical products, water and air filters, better LED light sources and better rechargeable batteries.