Mechanical properties of structured copper and printed silver hybrid stretchable electronic systems

Teemu Salo, Lukas Werft, Basel Adams, Donato Di Vito, Aki Halme, Vitalij Scenev, Hans Walter, Thomas Löher, Jukka Vanhala

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Stretchable electronics can be realized using different manufacturing methods and hybrids thereof. An example of the latter is the combination of stretchable circuit boards with screen-printing, which will be discussed in this work. The hybrid stretchable electronics structures are based on photolithographically structured and rigid copper islands and screen-printed silver ink interconnections. This enables the assembly of components with a high number of contacts onto the copper islands and deformable silver ink lines between islands. The transition area between islands and lines is critical due to local stress concentration. The effect and potential mitigations were studied by measuring the electrical resistance of test interconnections under mechanical loading. The first set of samples was elongated up to 30% in tensile tests. The second set of samples was elongated 10%, 20%, and 30% in cyclic tests up to 10 000 cycles. After the tests, extensive failure analysis, e.g. scanning electron microscope, and finite element analysis were conducted. In tensile tests at maximum load, the interconnections either snap apart or their resistance increases by 640% in the transition area. Adding protective structures around the transition area, the resistance increase can be reduced to 12%. Stress concentration in the transition area can be controlled with the layout of the structures, as shown in the cyclic tests. Depending on a layout, the structures protect interconnections in the transition area (resistance <4 Ωat 10% and 20% throughout 10 000 cycles, and up to 5000 cycles at 30% elongation), or with particular designs, cause fatal damage of the circuitry and fail early. The identified failure mechanism is typically fatigue damage caused by the repeated bending of the protective structure. The observed resistance increase at the interface was closely related to the crack propagation phase in the protective structures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number025019
Number of pages13
JournalFlexible and Printed Electronics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • stretchable electronics
  • printed electronics
  • fatigue testing
  • stress concentratione effect
  • failure analysis

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2


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