Ultrastretchable, Cyclable and Recyclable 1- and 2-Dimensional Conductors Based on Physically Cross-Linked Thermoplastic Elastomer Gels


Stretchable conductors maintain electrical conductivity at large strains relative to their rigid counterparts that fail at much lower strains. Here, we demonstrate ultrastretchable conductors that are conductive to at least 600% strain and may be strain-cycled without significant degradation to the mechanical or electrical properties. The conductors consist of a liquid metal alloy injected into microchannels composed of triblock copolymer gels. Rheological measurements identify the temperature window over which these gels may be molded and laminated to form microchannels without collapsing the microscale features. Mechanical measurements identify the gel composition that represents a compromise between minimizing modulus (to allow the polymer to be stretched with ease) and maximizing interfacial adhesion strength at the laminated polymer–polymer interface. The resulting 2D stretchable conductors are notable for their ability to maintain electrical conductivity up to large strains, their mechanical durability, and their ability to be recycled easily with full recovery of the component species.

Soft Matter