ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
stretchable electronics, stretchable interconnects, strain sensors, conductors, wearable electronics
We demonstrate a simple, low-cost, and green approach to deposit a microstructured coating on the silicone elastomer polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) that can be coated with gold to produce highly stretchable and conductive films. The microstructured coating is fabricated using an aqueous emulsion of poly(vinyl acetate) (PVAc): common, commercially available white glue. The aqueous glue emulsion self-assembles on the PDMS surface to generate clustered PVAc globules, which can be conformally coated with gold. The microstructured surface provides numerous defect sites that localize strain when the structure is stretched, resulting in the initiation of numerous microcracks. As the structure is further elongated, the microcracks interact with one another, preventing long-range crack propagation and thus preserving the conduction pathway. The resistance of PDMS/glue/gold structures remains remarkably low (23x the initial resistance) up to 65% elongation, making these structure useful as stretchable interconnects. Decreasing the concentration of the PVAc aqueous emulsion reduces the density of defect sites of the microstructure, which increases the change in resistance of the gold films with stretching. In this way, we can tune the resistance changes of the PDMS/glue/gold structures and increase their sensitivity to strain. We demonstrate the use of these structures as wearable, soft strain sensors.
Funding Reference Number
Carmichael, Tricia; Filiatrault, Heather L.; Carmichael, R. Stephen; and Boutette, Rachel A.. (2015). A Self-Assembled, Low-Cost, Microstructured Layer for Extremely Stretchable Gold Films. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 7 (37), 20745-20752.