25 July 2012
University of Texas Arlington professor Cheng Luo envisions the day that a flexible cell phone could be folded and placed in a pocket like a billfold or that a laptop computer could be rolled up and stored.
Through an active $300,000 National Science Foundation grant, the mechanical and aerospace engineering professor is developing a process called “micropunching lithography.” The process is used to create lightweight, low-cost and more flexible polymer-based devices that have the potential to replace silicon-based materials commonly used in computers and other electronic devices.
Luo’s work was recently published in the June 2012 North America edition of International Innovation. His project has garnered three grants totaling about $700,000.
“Practical applications for these microstructures could be in everything from glucose monitoring and delivery of chemicals in treating water pipes,” Luo said.
Micropunching lithography involves two operations: cutting and drawing. Luo said in these two operations polymers are deformed using rigid and soft molds, respectively, creating desired polymer channels and sidewalls that can be used for detection and delivery.
Erian Armanios, chairman of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, said Luo’s process has diverse applications.
“These novel microstructures of conducting polymers could be used as sensors and actuators for engineering and biomedical applications,” Armanios said.
Luo joined UT Arlington in 2007 and has focused his research on mechanics, microfabrication and nanofabrication, particularly with biomedical applications.