Researchers have taken a new step towards more bendable devices by manufacturing a thin film that keeps its useful electric and magnetic properties even when highly curved.
Flexible electronics have been hard to manufacture because many materials with useful electronic properties tend to be rigid.
Researchers have addressed this problem by taking tiny bits of materials like silicon and embedding them in flexible plastics.
A team of physicists and engineers from South Korea took the same approach with bismuth ferrite (BiFeO3) - one of the most promising materials whose electronic properties can be controlled by a magnetic field, and vice versa.
Such materials are called multiferroics and attract interest for applications like energy efficient, instant-on computing.
The researchers synthesised nanoparticles of bismuth ferrite and mixed them into a polymer solution. The solution was dried in a series of steps at increasing temperatures to produce a thin, flexible film.
When the researchers tested the electric and magnetic properties of the film they found that their new material did much more than preserve the useful properties of bulk bismuth ferrite - it actually made them better.
And the improved properties remained even as the film was curved into a cylindrical shape.
"Bulk bismuth ferrite has crucial problems for some applications, such as a high leakage current which hinders the strong electric properties," said YoungPak Lee, a professor at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea.