Over-Stretching Tolerant Conductors on Rubber Films by Inkjet-Printing Silver Nanoparticles for Wearables
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AuthorAlbrecht, Andreas; Bobinger, Marco; Salmerón, José F.; Becherer, Markus; Cheng, Gordon; Lugli, Paolo; Rivadeneyra, Almudena
Inkjet printingPrinted electronicsSilver nanoparticlesStretchableWearables
Albrecht, A. [et al.]. Over-Stretching Tolerant Conductors on Rubber Films by Inkjet-Printing Silver Nanoparticles for Wearables. Polymers 2018, 10, 1413; doi:10.3390/polym10121413.
SponsorshipThis work has been partially supported the TUM Graduate School (TUM GS), and the European Union through the fellowship H2020-MSCA-IF-2017 794885-SELFSENS. Additionally, this work was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Technical University of Munich within the Open Access Publishing Funding Programme.
The necessity to place sensors far away from the processing unit in smart clothes or artificial skins for robots may require conductive wirings on stretchable materials at very low-cost. In this work, we present an easy method to produce wires using only commercially available materials. A consumer grade inkjet printer was used to print a wire of silver nanoparticles with a sheet resistance below 1 W/sq. on a non-pre-strained sheet of elastic silicone. This wire was stretched more than 10,000 times and was still conductive afterwards. The viscoelastic behavior of the substrate results in a temporarily increased resistance that decreases to almost the original value. After over-stretching, the wire is conductive within less than a second. We analyze the swelling of the silicone due to the ink’s solvent and the nanoparticle film on top by microscope and SEM images. Finally, a 60 mm long stretchable conductor was integrated onto wearables, and showed that it can bear strains of up to 300% and recover to a conductivity that allows the operation of an assembled LED assembled at only 1.8 V. These self-healing wires can serve as wiring and binary strain or pressure sensors in sportswear, compression underwear, and in robotic applications.