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Biocompatible Conductive Polymers with High Conductivity and High Stretchability

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journal contribution
posted on 01.07.2019, 00:00 authored by Hao He, Lei Zhang, Xin Guan, Hanlin Cheng, Xixia Liu, Suzhu Yu, Jun Wei, Jianyong Ouyang
Stretchable electronic materials have drawn strong interest due to their important applications in areas such as bioelectronics, wearable devices, and soft robotics. The stretchable electrode is an integral unit of stretchable systems. Intrinsically conductive polymers such as poly­(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly­(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) can have high mechanical flexibility and good biocompatibility. However, their electrical conductivity and mechanical stretchability should be greatly improved for its applications as the stretchable electrode. Here, we report highly conductive and highly stretchable PEDOT:PSS by incorporating biocompatible d-sorbitol. d-Sorbitol can serve as both the secondary dopant and plasticizer for PEDOT:PSS. It can not only significantly improve the conductivity but also the stretchability. d-Sorbitol-PEDOT:PSS (s-PEDOT:PSS) can have a conductivity of >1000 S/cm, and the conductivity could be maintained at a strain up to 60%. The resistance of s-PEDOT:PSS remains almost constant during repeated stretching–releasing cycles. The mechanism for the stretchability improvement by d-sorbitol is ascribed to the softening of PSSH chains. d-Sorbitol can position among the PSSH chains and thus destructs the hydrogen bonds among the PSSH chains. This makes the conformational change of the PSSH chains under stress become easy and thus increases the mechanical flexibility of PEDOT:PSS. This conductivity is the highest for biocompatible intrinsically conductive polymers with high stretchability.