Published: July 22, 2019

Self-healing electronic skins for aquatic environments (Nature Electronics, Feb 2019)

Self-healing electronic skins for aquatic environments

Cao Y, Tan YJ, Li S, Lee WW, Guo H, Cai Y, Wang C and Tee BCK.

Abstract
Gelatinous underwater invertebrates such as jellyfish have organs that are transparent, stretchable, touch-sensitive and self-healing, which allow the creatures to navigate, camouflage themselves and, indeed, survive in aquatic environments. Artificial skins that emulate such functionality could be used to develop applications such as aquatic soft robots and water-resistant human–machine interfaces. Here we report a bio-inspired skin-like material that is transparent, electrically conductive and can autonomously self-heal in both dry and wet conditions. The material, which is composed of a fluorocarbon elastomer and a fluorine-rich ionic liquid, has an ionic conductivity that can be tuned to as high as 10−3 S cm−1 and can withstand strains as high as 2,000%. Owing to ion–dipole interactions, it offers fast and repeatable electro-mechanical self-healing in wet, acidic and alkali environments. To illustrate the potential applications of the approach, we used our electronic skins to create touch, pressure and strain sensors. We also show that the material can be printed into soft and pliable ionic circuit boards.

Please click HERE for the research article.