Mechanical Buckling: Mechanics, Metrology, and Stretchable Electronics



Mechanical buckling usually means catastrophic failure in structural mechanics systems. However, controlled buckling of thin films on compliant substrates has been used to advantage in diverse fields such as micro-/nanofabrication, optics, bioengineering, and metrology as well as fundamental mechanics studies. In this Feature Article, a mechanical buckling model is presented, which sprang, in part, from the buckling study of high-quality, single-crystalline nanomaterials. To check the mechanical-buckling phenomenon down to the nano-/molecular scale, well-aligned single-walled carbon nanotube arrays and cross linked carbon-based monolayers are transferred from growth substrate onto elastomeric substrate and then they are buckled into well-defined shapes that are amenable to quantitative analysis. From this nano- or molecular-scale buckling, it is shown that the mechanical moduli of nanoscale materials can easily be determined, even using a model based on continuum mechanics. In addition, buckling phenomena can be utilized for the determination of mechanical moduli of organic functional materials such as poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and P3HT/6,6-phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) composite, which are widely used for organic transistors and organic photovoltaics. The results provide useful information for the realization of flexible and/or stretchable organic electronics. Finally, the fabrication and applications of “wavy, stretchable” single-crystal Si electronics on elastomeric substrates are demonstrated.