Transparent butyl rubber is a new elastomer that has the potential to revolutionize stretchable electronics due to its intrinsically low gas permeability. Encapsulating organic electronic materials and devices with transparent butyl rubber protects them from problematic degradation due to oxygen and moisture, preventing premature device failure and enabling the fabrication of stretchable organic electronic devices with practical lifetimes. Here, we report a methodology to alter the surface chemistry of transparent butyl rubber to advance this material from acting as a simple device encapsulant to functioning as a substrate primed for direct device fabrication on its surface. We demonstrate a combination of plasma and chemical treatment to deposit a hydrophilic silicate layer on the transparent butyl rubber surface to create a new layered composite that combines Si-OH surface chemistry with the favorable gas-barrier properties of bulk transparent butyl rubber. We demonstrate that these surface Si-OH groups react with organosilanes to form self-assembled monolayers necessary for the deposition of electronic materials, and furthermore demonstrate the fabrication of stretchable gold wires using nanotransfer printing of gold films onto transparent butyl rubber modified with a thiol-terminated self-assembled monolayer. The surface modification of transparent butyl rubber establishes this material as an important new elastomer for stretchable electronics and opens the way to robust, stretchable devices.
Carmichael, Tricia; Vohra, Akhil; and Carmichael, R. Stephen. (2016). Developing the Surface Chemistry of Transparent Butyl Rubber for Impermeable Stretchable Electronics. Langmuir, 32 (40), 10206-10212.