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Over-Stretching Tolerant Conductors on Rubber Films by Inkjet-Printing Silver Nanoparticles for Wearables

1
Institute for Nanoelectronics, Technical University of Munich, Theresienstr. 90, München 80333, Germany
2
Institute for Cognitive Systems, Technical University of Munich, Karlstr. 45, München 80333, Germany
3
Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Universitätsplatz 1, Bozen-Bolzano 39100, Italy
4
Pervasive Electronics Advanced Research Laboratory (PEARL), Department of Electronics and Computer Technology, University of Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1413; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121413
Received: 5 November 2018 / Revised: 6 December 2018 / Accepted: 14 December 2018 / Published: 19 December 2018
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Abstract

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 Ω/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.
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Keywords: inkjet printing; printed electronics; silver nanoparticles; stretchable; wearables inkjet printing; printed electronics; silver nanoparticles; stretchable; wearables
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Albrecht, A.; Bobinger, M.; Salmerón, J.F.; Becherer, M.; Cheng, G.; Lugli, P.; Rivadeneyra, A. Over-Stretching Tolerant Conductors on Rubber Films by Inkjet-Printing Silver Nanoparticles for Wearables. Polymers 2018, 10, 1413.

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