Macroelectronics is a platform for research on soft matter materials, where the trend is going from flexible to stretchable electronics. Highly flexible electronic products beyond displays are close to be available on the market, an example is provided by the Q-foil technology, developed by a spin-off company of the Johannes Kepler University. Q-foils allow for the fabrication of interactive screens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZStTwZHhDGA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg8ncjfFHZ4. Besides such developments close to the market, highly advanced flexible electronic items consisting of pressure sensitive rubber sheets and large area arrays of organic flash memories have been developed [Sekitani09]. Stretchable electronics is much less advanced, so it is a perfect playing ground for applied basic research. As a first example of recent work from our group, ultracompliant batteries are discussed; which may found use to power stretchable electronic items [Kaltenbrunner10]. The second example is devoted to elastomer actuators. Following an initial experiment of W. Röntgen, our team has introduced charge controlled operation of elastomer actuators as a means to overcome the electromechanical instability of voltage controlled actuators [Keplinger10]. In the final example, an experimental set-up for studying elastomer generators is discussed, which allows for assessing elastomer materials in energy harvesting. Materials spanned include flexible polymers, stretchable elastomers and gels, devices range from interactive screens, highly advanced sensors, compliant batteries, to actuators and energy harvesters. Though it seems that there is huge potential in soft matter based macroelectronic research, there is – after all – still a long way to go before such items will be common products in our daily life.
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Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Cambridge, MA 02138