Shifting from electronics to ionics

It is common knowledge that the electronics of today function by moving electrons through a conducting material, in most cases copper or aluminum. Due to the ease of moving such a light particle through a media where no unwanted chemical reactions occur, this has been the sole design for electrical devices until now. Researchers working in a materials science laboratory at Harvard have found a way to mimic the charged ionic signaling system of our own bodies and use it to produce, and possibly replace, some electronics used today.


By incorporating a rubber layer as an insulator, the team was able to ensure no unwanted chemical reactions occurred when high voltages were applied. This rubber sheet is sandwiched between two gel layers impregnated with salt water to conduct an applied voltage. When the voltage is applied, the ions are actually passed through the gel structure making it possible to stretch and deform the structure without an increase in resistance. The team demonstrated this perfectly by using the ionic device as a loud speaker to play music from a desktop computer. Check out the video below to witness the awesomeness!

The researchers believe that ionics could be the electronics of the future, especially those used in biological systems such as implants. Some other possible uses the team have dreamed up include windows that are completely sound-proof and even sound generating tv and smartphone screens. The technology has been featured in the August 3oth issue of Science.

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