back to article Stretchy 'bucky-gel' promises touchscreen video-stockings

Japanese boffins have developed a material which they believe could be used to make stretchy, highly flexible electronic circuitry. It goes almost without saying that their elasto-conductor miracle sheet is based on fashionable carbon nanotubes. Science Magazine brings us the scoop on the rubbery circuitboard breakthrough. …


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  1. Chris
    Paris Hilton


    Buckminster Fuller and stockings.......I feel like I'm in the middle of a geeky wet dream.

    Paris, because I want her to play with my buckyballs.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Stretchy bucky gel ...

    Sounds like an athletic and frisky young miss from the home counties.

  3. Sam

    Compulsory non PC comment

    "This circuit board's rubbery!"

    "Ahh, domo arigato gozaimas! Grad you rike!"

  4. Anonymous Coward

    What am I missing re: clothing?

    It seems like every time we hear about flexible conductors/semiconductors somebody always makes the statement that it could be incorporated into clothing.

    The thought of a multimedia light-up holiday undergarment is delightful, I admit. But the headline suggests that the editors share my puzzlement. It does kind of give the impression that flexible electronics is a solution looking for a problem.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's already a name for this stuff

    mimetic polycarbon: take a bow, William Gibson

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Oh, what I could do with that ....

    Touch sensitive and conductive underwear - heat sensing, maybe? Video displays on other clothing? Hmmmmm. Put those things together?

    Never again would a woman say, "Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?".

    Never again would a man wonder, "First base ... should I go for second, or is there a slap in the face coming?"

    It's truly amazing what modern science can achieve!

  7. Anonymous Coward




  8. Bryce Prewitt

    @AC, re: william gibson

    Philip Dick beat Gibson by seven years with his Scramble Suit.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What about men's nylon stockings? Hm?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    It's probably poisonous

    It will never degrade the entire planet will be coated with this crap forever long after we all die of starvation, organ failure, and cancer.

  11. Solomon Grundy

    Cancer Suit

    Cause that's all this is going to be good for. Carbon Nanotubes cause cancer - everybody knows that.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not spherical

    Buckyballs are not spherical. The arrangement of atoms makes them look like the patches on a football, due to the hexagonal and pentagonal shapes, but there is no outer surface to complete a sphere.

    That said, I wonder if this material, made in to a body suit, would protect against tasers ?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Looking above... rule 36 aplies already ?

    hmm, it reminds me of the outfits the girls in MGS4 were wearing


    Very Nice.

    Very very.. okay, how long does it take to get alt.binaries.fetish.bucky-gel is up?


  14. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Stretching it

    With the right alloy and zig-zagging traces (flat springs), you could produce traditional metal-clad circuit boards that stretch too.

    The rubber is useful if it can be printed onto irregular surfaces that can't be coated with metal foil. Hmmm... Electric rubbers. I wonder if the sex industry pays more than the tech industry?

  15. Martin Lyne
    Black Helicopters

    I know a person

    that gets to fire lasers at fullerenes. With some sort of £100k laser (but it's in a box, not fired from the hip, sadly)

    Re: "It's never going to degrade": If it's tough enough not to get damaged or at least, vapourised, then I'm not too worried. Plus I can programme it to defend me against the Grey Goo™ or something. I'm sure they'll throw in some nanites for self-repair.

    If they start making it into Depleted Uranium-esque tips for tank shells, however, then we may have an issue. Because DU's 4.5 BILLION YEAR HALF-LIFE isn't an issue. ANd that's not being vapourised against the side of armour. Oh wail.. Unless you're just worried because it might be a risk *specifically to you*? How noble.

    While we're on the topic of Buckys, anyone think they should remake Bucky O'Hare? But, like, for adults.

  16. Robert Heffernan

    Problem... Solution..

    AC Said : "It does kind of give the impression that flexible electronics is a solution looking for a problem."

    Alan Said : "That said, I wonder if this material, made in to a body suit, would protect against tasers ?"


    If the material is more conductive than the body then it most definately would, and I would be the first to buy one of these suits before my trip to the USA in February.

    Mines the one with "Taze Me Bro!" written across it.

  17. Graham Dawson Silver badge


    "Looking above... rule 36 aplies already ?"

    ule 36, rule 36... Any officer caught sniffing the saddle of the excercise bicycle in the women's gym will be discharged without trial. I'm not really sure how that applies to this situation.

    Wait, perhaps I am...

    Anyway you're looking for rule 34. :)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Conductive garments would make a great wearable Faraday cage. Definitely superior to tinfoil.

  19. Adam Foxton

    @Martin Lyne

    The 4.5Billion year half life is only for a fraction of a % of the depeleted uranium. IIRC 100 or so years should have it pretty inert. If it would be burning hot and pumping out hard radiation for 4.5 billion years we'd probably use the depleted stuff to generate power. Even the reactor core stuff that's lying around near Chernobyl is pretty safe until you breath it in- and you'd hope that core material would be less radioactive than "depleted"- i.e. spent- uranium.

    Any why _would_ they use a rubbery substance as the tip of a shell? Or was this just a ridiculous attempt to make a random political point?

    @Probably poisonous

    The world isn't covered in glass- and that's not the most bio-degradable of material. Been around for a while, too! Plastic- similarly doesn't degrade too fast (well, most householdey plastics) but still no planet-covering layer of it.

    This material would just be treated like anything else- either made recycleable, landfilled or burnt. Ideally made recycleable or landfilled- that way it's a toss-up between a lack of "manufacturing new clothes" environmental damage or "clothes that are almost all carbon nicely sequestered away underground"

  20. Anonymous Coward

    @Adam Foxton

    > "Plastic- similarly doesn't degrade too fast (well, most householdey plastics) but still no planet-covering layer of it."

    No, not the whole planet, just the oceans .... to the tune of an area twice the size of the USA:

  21. Irma

    very interesting

    But about the plastic covering the earth .... it's now twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean. Is it true?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Oh, what I could do with that

    "Never again would a man wonder, "First base ... should I go for second, or is there a slap in the face coming?""

    No man ever wonders that. The risk/reward calculation always says go for it..

  23. Ed
    Thumb Up

    @Anonymous Coward

    quote "Touch sensitive and conductive underwear - heat sensing, maybe? Video displays on other clothing? Hmmmmm. Put those things together?" /quote

    Now thats some good thinking... somone buy that man a beer

  24. Tim

    Does this mean...

    ...that we are all going to be spandex clad superheroes, in the near future?

    Wearable gadgets could mean chameleon type clothes. There's also that gecko type textile that lets wearers scale tall buildings. Electrical manipulation can give a temporary boost in strength... etc, etc.

    Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility, may the force be with you!

  25. Paul Nolan

    Re. Not spherical

    Well, the "surfaces" of the carbon atoms in a buckyball are a pretty tight fit (ball and stick models just show what is connected where - a representation such as is more accurate for showing the shape).

  26. Anonymous Coward


    Riot police use rubber bullets the world over (except in politically repressed regimes where they use tanks - *POLITICAL COMMENT*).

    Trouble with rubber bullets is that they just bounce off you. Imagine the stopping power if a depleted uranium rubber bullet. Should be able to get through the thickest of peaceful protesters whilst telling their political overlords that they are just using rubber bullets and it must have been a freak richocet.

  27. Ian Moore

    @Adam Foxton

    Natural Uranium is a mix of U238 (99.3%) and U235 (0.7%).

    Depleted Uranium is what is left when the amount U235 has been reduced during the production of enriched Uranium, as used in reactors and bombs, which has a higher percentage of U235.

    U238 has a half live of about 4.5 billion years.

    U235 has a half life of about 700 million years.

    Where do you get the idea that after 100 years Uranium of any type is inactive?

  28. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    "or at any rate, video stretchpants"

    "You lookin' at my ass?"

    "Yes, it's showing the trailer for the new James Bond film"

    "What do you think?"

    "Some films were just made for widescreen" <SLAP!>

  29. BioTube

    Another electronocon gadget

    But will anybody really want it? I suppose stretchy mobos will be more break resistant, though.

  30. Azrael


    Bucky O'Hare? So instead of worrying about ROTM it'll be Rise of the Toad Empire?

    I want wearable computing. I enjoy being away from the computer, but there are some aspects I'd like to take with me. As we get more and more access to wireless and handy tools like google maps, there are more reasons why I'd want a computer with me. I'd love to be able to glance at my wrist and get a map of the nearby streets along with my location.

    As I don't like mobile phones (and people tend to carry those with them everywhere) a mobile computer with my IM on it would be quite handy.

    I considered building myself a wearable computer, but wanted an interface that only required one hand to use, and couldn't figure out a method to make a chording keyboard and a hands-free mouse that wouldn't cost me a fortune. Certainly too expensive for a side project.

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