The way how we use and perceive electronic devices is on the verge of entering a new era. With efforts in exible and stretchable electronics, PCBs start to leave their connement to at, rigid boards towards conformable form factors able to bend, stretch or twist, commencing novel application areas in large area sensing, wearable smart patches or mobile health.
Despite the thorough advancement of intrinsically deformable electronics, conventional rigid, waferbased electronic components are still superior in terms of integration density and performance. A hybrid approach aims to merge the mechanical compliance of stretchable carriers with off-the-shelf electronics. Combining the benets of both worlds enables high-performance systems able to conform to arbitrary shapes. This concept reduces the technical challenge to carrier patterning for effective strain isolation of electronic components, to conquer the introduced mechanical mismatchand to develop conductor solutions capable of deforming without impairing electronic properties. This work gives an overview of the latest advancements in this topic, covering materials and methods to realize exible and stretchable hybrids including several approaches for substrate structuring and stretchable conductors along with SMD integration, tough bonding techniques, self-guarding magnet-based snap connectors and implementation of each in entire devices for next-generation conformable electronics.
Assessing performance and properties of such systems usually requires large expenses for able laboratory- and measurement equipment, a severe matter for groups with limited nancial resources. Following the momentum gaining ”open-hardware” movement, this inspired the design and development of affordable characterization tools. In particular, a toy-brick based tabletop tensile tester for research and development of stretchable electronics and a low-cost mobile-phone controlled impedance analyzer, both in their scope of application being en par with their commercial counterparts, are discussed.
Overall, this work describes the exploration of novel approaches to combine conformable substrates with common off-the shelf electronics along with innovative methods for fabrication and cost-effective characterization of next generation smart hybrid-electronic devices.