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Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive with Controllable Adhesion for Fabrication of Ultrathin Soft Devices

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journal contribution
posted on 28.08.2020, 19:05 by Yun Hee Ju, Hee-Jin Lee, Chul Jong Han, Cheul-Ro Lee, Youngmin Kim, Jong-Woong Kim
As the interest in foldable smartphones recently launched onto the market shifts toward the next generation of flexible electronics, the development of ultrathin devices is gaining considerable attention. The strain formed on the surfaces of film-based devices approximates the film thickness divided by twice the radius of curvature; therefore, the use of an ultrathin substrate is the key for the development of next generation foldable devices. However, the stiffness of ultrathin films is extremely low; thus, it cannot be easily used directly as a substrate for device fabrication. Therefore, these films generally undergo device manufacturing processes while being attached to a rigid substrate such as glass and are peeled from the rigid substrate after the process is finished. Thus, the initial adhesion of the adhesive used to fix the film to the temporary substrate should be strong, and after the process is completed, the adhesion must be lessened to enable soft peeling. In this study, we succeeded in developing a novel pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) whose adhesive strength can be severely reduced by water treatment. Accordingly, considering that amphiphilic oligomers promote water absorption through hydrogen bonding to water, amphiphilic oligomers were mixed with an acrylic polymer to prepare the water-responsive PSA (wr-PSA). The adhesion strength of the wr-PSA in the early stage, which reached 382(±22) N/m, dramatically dropped to 9(±2) N/m after a water immersion test. Using the wr-PSA, a 1.4 μm-thick polyethylene terephthalate film coated with Ag nanowires was softly peeled off from the glass after being immersed in warm water. In addition, the adhesion reduced by the immersion in water was recovered again when the water absorbed by the adhesive was dried. This implies that the developed adhesive can be reusable.