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Culture

Wires that stretch: it's coming from Europe

Elastic wires will let you own flexible screens.

A lab at the University of Ghent has come up with electric, elastic wires.

Electric elastic wires-- it sounds like a band Peter Max would have hung out with in the late 60s, doesn?t it? Actually, these are electric interconnects that give consumer electronic devices a greater range of motion, according to the story in EE Times, which always does an admirable job of covering overseas trends. Thus, a manufacturer could build flexible displays or e-paper with greater reliability.

The group embedded 4-micron gold wires in a silicone film. The wire itself is horseshoe shaped, or in other words, longer than it would ordinarily be to connect two points. To further increase strechiness, the wire is divided into four parallel tracks.

A few companies have come out with thin, paper-like displays, but component breakthroughs like this could help them move toward the mainstream. Among some of the more active companies in this area are Universal Display (OLED screens), LiquaVista (a spin-off from Philips) and E-Ink (out of research at MIT.)