A stretchable, flexible self-cleaning device that can be used as a mobile phone or keyboard that harvests solar energy and senses the environment by using nanotechnology was launched this week and is now on view from Feb 24 - May 12 2008 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
Morph is a Joint nanotechnology concept developed by Nokia Research Center (NRC), Finland and the University of Cambridge, UK that demonstrates how future mobile devices use nanotechnology that might be capable of delivering future mobile devices that use flexible and strechable materials, transparent electronics and self-cleaning surfaces that can transform into different shapes.
Fibril proteins are woven into a three dimensional mesh that reinforces thin elastic structures. Using the same principle behind spider silk, this elasticity enables the device to literally change shape and configure itself to adapt to the task at hand.
A folded design could easily fit in a pocket and lend itself to being used as a traditional handset. An unfolded larger design could display more detailed information, and incorporate devices such as keyboards and touch pads.
Nanotechnology could be used to:
- integrate electronics, from interconnects to sensors which could share flexible properties. The use of biodegradable materials might make production and recycling of devices easier.
- create self-cleaning surfaces on mobile devices, ultimately reducing corrosion, wear and improving longevity. Nanostructured surfaces, such as "Nanoflowers" naturally repel water, dirt, and even fingerprints utilizing effects also seen in natural systems.
- become a natural source of energy via a covering of "Nanograss" structures that harvest solar power. At the same time new high energy density storage materials allow batteries to become smaller and thinner, while also quicker to recharge and able to endure more charging cycles.
- use nanosensors to examine the environment around them in completely new ways, from analyzing air pollution, to gaining insight into bio-chemical traces and processes - it could be as simple as knowing if the fruit we are about to enjoy should be washed before we eat it.
The researchers believe that elements of Morph might be available to integrate into handheld devices within 7 years, though initially only at the high-end. However, nanotechnology may one day lead to low cost manufacturing solutions, and offer the possibility of integrating complex functionality at a low price.
Reference and images: Nokia
For more information attend Printed Electronics Europe 2008.