Spirally Structured Conductive Composites for Highly Stretchable, Robust Conductors and Sensors.ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 2017; 9(27):23007-23016AA
Flexible and stretchable electronics are highly desirable for next generation devices. However, stretchability and conductivity are fundamentally difficult to combine for conventional conductive composites, which restricts their widespread applications especially as stretchable electronics. Here, we innovatively develop a new class of highly stretchable and robust conductive composites via a simple and scalable structural approach. Briefly, carbon nanotubes are spray-coated onto a self-adhesive rubber film, followed by rolling up the film completely to create a spirally layered structure within the composites. This unique spirally layered structure breaks the typical trade-off between stretchability and conductivity of traditional conductive composites and, more importantly, restrains the generation and propagation of mechanical microcracks in the conductive layer under strain. Benefiting from such structure-induced advantages, the spirally layered composites exhibit high stretchability and flexibility, good conductive stability, and excellent robustness, enabling the composites to serve as highly stretchable conductors (up to 300% strain), versatile sensors for monitoring both subtle and large human activities, and functional threads for wearable electronics. This novel and efficient methodology provides a new design philosophy for manufacturing not only stretchable conductors and sensors but also other stretchable electronics, such as transistors, generators, artificial muscles, etc.