Journal of Materials Research

Rapid Communications

Compliant thin film patterns of stiff materials as platforms for stretchable electronics

Teng Lia1, Zhigang Suoa1 c1, Stéphanie P. Lacoura2 and Sigurd Wagnera2

a1 Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

a2 Department of Electrical Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544


A thin film of a stiff material, patterned as a serpentine on a flat elastomeric substrate, can elongate substantially when the substrate is pulled. We showed that the film elongates by twisting out of plane, accommodated by the compliance of the substrate and the pattern of the film. Consequently, large elongations of the substrate induce small strains in the film, even when the width of the film is much larger than its thickness. Such a wide serpentine, or other compliant patterns of stiff materials, can serve as a platform on which electronic circuits can be fabricated. This architecture will make electronics elastically stretchable.

(Received July 16 2005)

(Accepted September 12 2005)

(Online publication December 2005)

Key Words:

  • Electronic material;
  • Metallic conductor;
  • Thin film


c1 Address all correspondence to this author.e-mail: