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Open AccessArticle

A Skin-Inspired Stretchable, Self-Healing and Electro-Conductive Hydrogel with a Synergistic Triple Network for Wearable Strain Sensors Applied in Human-Motion Detection

1
College of Materials Science and Engineering, Joint International Research Lab of Lignocellulosic Functional Materials, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037, China
2
College of Biology and Environment, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037, China
3
Laboratory of Active Bio-based Materials Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere, Kyoto University, Uji, Kyoto 611-0011, Japan
4
School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
5
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB E3B 5A3, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(12), 1737; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9121737
Received: 3 November 2019 / Revised: 28 November 2019 / Accepted: 2 December 2019 / Published: 6 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanocomposites from Renewable Resources)
Hydrogel-based strain sensors inspired by nature have attracted tremendous attention for their promising applications in advanced wearable electronics. Nevertheless, achieving a skin-like stretchable conductive hydrogel with synergistic characteristics, such as ideal stretchability, excellent sensing performance and high self-healing efficiency, remains challenging. Herein, a highly stretchable, self-healing and electro-conductive hydrogel with a hierarchically triple-network structure was developed through a facile two-step preparation process. Firstly, 2, 2, 6, 6-tetrametylpiperidine-1-oxyl (TEMPO)-oxidized cellulose nanofibrils were homogeneously dispersed into polyacrylic acid hydrogel, with the presence of ferric ions as an ionic crosslinker to synthesize TEMPO-oxidized cellulose nanofibrils/polyacrylic acid hydrogel via a one-pot free radical polymerization. A polypyrrole conductive network was then incorporated into the synthetic hydrogel matrix as the third-level gel network by polymerizing pyrrole monomers. The hierarchical 3D network was mutually interlocked through hydrogen bonds, ionic coordination interactions and physical entanglements of polymer chains to achieve the target composite hydrogels with a homogeneous texture, enhanced mechanical stretchability (elongation at break of ~890%), high viscoelasticity (maximum storage modulus of ~27.1 kPa), intrinsic self-healing ability (electrical and mechanical healing efficiencies of ~99.4% and 98.3%) and ideal electro-conductibility (~3.9 S m−1). The strain sensor assembled by the hybrid hydrogel, with a desired gauge factor of ~7.3, exhibits a sensitive, fast and stable current response for monitoring small/large-scale human movements in real-time, demonstrating promising applications in damage-free wearable electronics. View Full-Text
Keywords: nanocellulose; polyacrylic acid; polypyrrole; hydrogel; self-healing and conductive nanocellulose; polyacrylic acid; polypyrrole; hydrogel; self-healing and conductive
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chen, Y.; Lu, K.; Song, Y.; Han, J.; Yue, Y.; Biswas, S.K.; Wu, Q.; Xiao, H. A Skin-Inspired Stretchable, Self-Healing and Electro-Conductive Hydrogel with a Synergistic Triple Network for Wearable Strain Sensors Applied in Human-Motion Detection. Nanomaterials 2019, 9, 1737.

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