Published on 16 Feb 2023

‘Lego-like’ universal connector makes assembling stretchable devices a snap

An international team led by researchers from NTU has developed a universal connector to assemble stretchable devices simply and quickly, in a ‘Lego-like’ manner.

Stretchable devices including soft robots and wearable healthcare devices are assembled using several different modules with different material characteristics - some soft, some rigid, and some encapsulated.

However, the commercial pastes (glue), currently used to connect the modules often either fail to transmit mechanical and electrical signals reliably when deformed or break easily.

To create a reliably functioning device, module connectors (interfaces) must be custom-built with enough strength to perform their intended tasks.  

Making easily assembled stretchable devices without compromising their strength and reliability under stress has been a long-standing challenge limiting their development.

The NTU-led team reported in the journal Nature their answer to this challenge, the BIND interface (biphasic, nano-dispersed interface) which makes assembly of stretchable devices simple while offering excellent mechanical and electrical performance.

Just like building structures with Lego blocks, high-performing stretchable devices can be assembled by simply pressing together any module bearing the BIND interface.

This convenient way to connect electronic modules could form the basis of assembling future stretchable devices, in which producers ‘plug-and-play’ the components according to their designs. 

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