Although 95 percent of commercial electronics and computing systems deploy silicon as the semi-conductor material, Ray said the team opted for zinc oxide instead. “Conventional silicon chip is usually considered to be rigid, as brittle and breakable as window glass. Zinc oxide nanorod array embedded in silk platform is flexible and can withstand mechanical stress and bending. “Moreover, the zinc oxide, under mechanical stress, generates electrical energy. This means these devices can be powered by the energy generated when a soldier is moving about,” Ray said.
This was important for crafting self-powered, flexible photo detector (light detector) devices, according to Ray. “In remote locations where power sources are scarce, the wearable technology can power up by mere movement of the user,” added Ray. Narendar Gogurla and Subhas C. Kundu are the co-authors of the study published in the journal Nanotechnology.