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Matrix-Independent Highly Conductive Composites for Electrodes and Interconnects in Stretchable Electronics

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journal contribution
posted on 07.02.2019, 00:00 by Wei Guo, Peng Zheng, Xin Huang, Haoyue Zhuo, Yingjie Wu, Zhouping Yin, Zhuo Li, Hao Wu
Electrically conductive composites (ECCs) hold great promise in stretchable electronics because of their printability, facile preparation, elasticity, and possibility for large-area fabrication. A high conductivity at steady state and during mechanical deformation is a critical property for ECCs, and extensive efforts have been made to improve the conductivity. However, most of those approaches are exclusively functional to a specific polymer matrix, restricting their capability to meet other requirements, such as mechanical, adhesive, and thermomechanical properties. Here, we report a generic approach to prepare ECCs with conductivity close to that of bulk metals and maintain their conductivity during stretching. This approach iodizes the surfactants on the commercial silver flakes, and subsequent photo exposure converts these silver iodide nanoparticles to silver nanoparticles. The ECCs based on silver nanoparticle-covered silver flakes exhibit high conductivity because of the removal of insulating surfactants as well as the enhanced contact between flakes. The treatment of silver flakes is independent of the polymer matrix and provides the flexibility in matrix selection. In the development of stretchable interconnects, ECCs can be prepared with the same polymer as the substrate to ensure strong adhesion between interconnects and the substrate. For the fabrication of on-skin electrodes, a polymer matrix of low modulus can be selected to enhance conformal contact with the skin for reduced impedance.