Recent advances in 3D electronics

Most electronic devices are flat, and they are getting thinner and sleeker every year. But sometimes it’s necessary for electrical systems to be flexible, formed in odd orientations or integrated into 3D objects. Below are some recent papers published in ACS journals that report techniques for creating 3D electronic devices and their components. Reporters can request free access to these papers by emailing

“Nanomaterial-Embedded DNA Films on 2D Frames"
ACS Applied Bio Materials
May 11, 2022

By combining DNA nanotechnology and 3D-printed frames, researchers formed uniquely shaped, colorful flat and curved films for electronic and optical devices. Flexible DNA films were embedded with nanomaterials, including single-color dyes, temperature-impacted dyes, electrically conductive copper or terbium ions and organic light-emitting molecules, giving them additional functional properties. These materials could be used in triboelectric nanogenerators, solar energy harvesting devices and chemical sensors, the researchers say.

Robust and Highly Conductive PEDOT:PSS:Ag Nanowires/Polyethyleneimine Multilayers Based on Ionic Layer-by-Layer Assembly for E-Textiles and 3D Electronics
ACS Applied Electronic Materials
April 27, 2022

In this study, flexible electrodes with adjustable thicknesses were created and affixed to cotton fabric and a variety of objects, such as a glass vial, golf ball, plastic cube and ceramic dish. Researchers used a layer-by-layer coating technique to alternate a conductive polymer mixed with silver nanowires and polyethyleneimine. The resulting material formed highly conductive electrodes, which became a heater when a constant voltage was applied.

Laser Direct Structured 3D Circuits on Silicone
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
April 12, 2022

Silicone is a super flexible, biocompatible material, but metal doesn’t easily adhere to it. In this paper, researchers etched patterns into silicone doped with copper chromite, producing a surface that pure copper could strongly adhere to make stretchable electronics. The team produced 16-turn horseshoe-shaped circuits, which stretched up to 83% before breaking, and a 3D spiral circuit on the inside of a small silicone bowl, which repaired itself after being deformed.

Self-Folding PCB Kirigami: Rapid Prototyping of 3D Electronics via Laser Cutting and Forming
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
March 17, 2022

Kirigami is a traditional artform of folding and cutting paper. Now, researchers have applied kirigami techniques to printed circuit boards made of copper-polyimide films. After pre-oxidizing the copper circuits, a low-power pulsed fiber laser folded the flexible board up to 90 degrees, while a higher power setting cut through the material. The team formed complex 3D electronic structures, including a cube around an LED that remained lit as a laser manipulated the circuit board.

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