Homogeneous Ultra-Stretchable Electronic Polymer Strain Sensor with Excellent Linearity and Unique Repeatable, Autonomous Self-Healing Ability

Y. Lu, J-W Jeon, E.. Wujcik
The University of Alabama,
United States

Keywords: strain sensor, polymer, homogeneous, linear, repeatable, autonomous, self-healing


Wearable strain sensors are essential for the realization of applications in the broad fields of remote healthcare monitoring, soft robots, immersive gaming, among many others. These flexible sensors should be comfortably adhered to the surface of the skin and capable of monitoring human motions with high accuracy, as well as exhibiting excellent durability. However, it is challenging to develop electronic materials that possess the properties of skin—compliant, elastic, stretchable, and self-healable. Here we show a soft electronic material composed of poly(2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonic acid) (PAAMPSA), polyaniline (PANI) and phytic acid (PA) that exhibits ultrahigh stretchability (~1935%), excellent repeatable self-healing ability without intervention (repeating conductivity healing efficiency > 98%), and exceptional linearity without calibration—outperforming current reported wearable strain sensors. The partially deprotonated PAAMPSA/PA and doped PANI emeraldine salt, under ambient conditions, construct a dynamic network of polymer chains crosslinked by hydrogen bonds and electrostatic interactions which enables ultrahigh stretchability and repeatable self-healing. Sensitive strain responsive geometric and piezoresistive mechanisms of the polymer network owing to the homogenous and viscoelastic nature has provided the sensor with excellent linear responses to omnidirectional tensile strain and bending deformations. Furthermore, this electronic material is scalable and simple to process in an environmentally-friendly manner, paving the way for the next generation flexible/wearable electronics.