Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

A highly stretchable, transparent, and conductive polymer

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Science Advances  10 Mar 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 3, e1602076
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602076

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Abstract

Previous breakthroughs in stretchable electronics stem from strain engineering and nanocomposite approaches. Routes toward intrinsically stretchable molecular materials remain scarce but, if successful, will enable simpler fabrication processes, such as direct printing and coating, mechanically robust devices, and more intimate contact with objects. We report a highly stretchable conducting polymer, realized with a range of enhancers that serve a dual function: (i) they change morphology and (ii) they act as conductivity-enhancing dopants in poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS). The polymer films exhibit conductivities comparable to the best reported values for PEDOT:PSS, with over 3100 S/cm under 0% strain and over 4100 S/cm under 100% strain—among the highest for reported stretchable conductors. It is highly durable under cyclic loading, with the conductivity maintained at 3600 S/cm even after 1000 cycles to 100% strain. The conductivity remained above 100 S/cm under 600% strain, with a fracture strain of 800%, which is superior to even the best silver nanowire– or carbon nanotube–based stretchable conductor films. The combination of excellent electrical and mechanical properties allowed it to serve as interconnects for field-effect transistor arrays with a device density that is five times higher than typical lithographically patterned wavy interconnects.

Keywords
  • Stretchable electronics
  • conducting polymer
  • transparent electrode
  • plasticizer
  • ionic dopant
  • soft interface
  • rigid-island
  • field-effect transistors
  • polymer characterization
  • patterning

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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