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Vapor-Mediated Stretchable and Reversible Conductors from Microporous Liquid Metal Polymers

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posted on 2021-04-15, 04:43 authored by Yumeng Xin, Jingyun Lan, Jun Xu, Dongfang Wu, Jiuyang Zhang
Flexible electronic devices have penetrated into a variety of industry sectors (i.e., consumer electronics, automotive, and medical) in human life, and this calls for better properties of stretchable conductive composites as the crucial elements. Traditionally, conductive inorganic fillers are incorporated in flexible polymers to prepare conductive composites, which falls short of the required properties in more demanding devices nowadays due to limited deformation, low conductivity, and poor processability. Herein, liquid metals were successfully incorporated in microporous polymer matrixes using a simple codissolving and film casting/solvent evaporation approach. The microporous liquid metal-embedded polymer (LMEP) was insulative as fabricated due to discontinuous liquid metals (LMs), while it became conductive upon stretching. Interestingly, the LMEP films showed a reversible insulator–conductor transition due to the regenerated pores in polymer matrix under organic vapor. Negligible changes in the resistance value were seen even after 50 solvent exposure–tensile strain cycles, demonstrating the excellent stability of the electrical properties of these films. Furthermore, most of the commercially available soluble polymers including rigid plastics and soft elastomers are suitable for the fabrication of LMEP. With the ideal characteristics, they have been successfully exploited in model alarm systems to prevent temperature overloads and solvent leakage, showcasing the great potential in next generation sensors used in industry settings.