Scientists have made a discovery that makes silicon cool again: it can now be made into bendy chips. Stiff silicon devices are powerful, of course, but not the best fit for some situations such as advanced medical sensors. Now a team University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has worked out a way to stick 1.5 micron-thick layers of silicon onto rubbery plastic in a way that actually makes it stretchable. Check out the video to see elastic integrated circuits in action.
All very cool, but what will it be used for? Well, stretchiness allows the material to be used in more places than simple "flexible" circuits. Once it's scaled up into real devices it could be used to make wearable computers, or to dot the exterior of aircraft with sensors. The Illinois team also predict it would be perfect for making sensors that wrap around the brain, making a powerful detector for seizures and other brain activity. [BBC News and New Scientist]