Nano-sized particles of gold could be the basis for foldable, rollable or even wearable plastic electronics in the future.
So believe researchers at De Montfort University (DMU) and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) where the potential use of gold nanoparticles for memory storage has been tested.
The researchers have revealed that gold nanoparticles can be charged when an electric field is applied and retain that charge when the field is taken away.
This ability is essential for use in memory devices as it allows information to be stored in the form of charged and uncharged particles.
These particles could be bonded to flexible materials such as paper and thin plastic substrates.
Leader of the research Shashi Paul, head of the Emerging Technologies Research Centre at DMU, stated the advantage of gold nanoparticles is they do not oxidise and rust, unlike other nanoparticles that have been tested, such as iron.
Researchers believe that organic electronics could be integrated into clothing in the future
It is hoped by many in the scientific and engineering communities that nanoparticles could become as mainstream as silicon in electronics. Paul stated that manufacturing silicon-based electronics can at times require temperatures as high as 1,000oC or greater, and these processes are extremely energy intensive and expensive.
He added that organic materials can be processed at room temperature and so require considerably less energy. Paul said this also means they can be used with cheap and flexible plastic substrates, which would melt in conventional silicon, high-temperature processing steps.
The DMU and NPL research teams claim there are limitations for the applications of silicon-based devices because they are brittle and can easily be broken if they are bent.
The researchers see organic electronics in the future being integrated into a variety of products, including clothing.