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Nat Commun. 2015 Nov 23;6:8874. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9874.

Extremely stretchable and conductive water-repellent coatings for low-cost ultra-flexible electronics.

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Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60607, USA.
Smart Materials, Nanophysics, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, 16163 Genoa, Italy.


Rapid advances in modern electronics place ever-accelerating demands on innovation towards more robust and versatile functional components. In the flexible electronics domain, novel material solutions often involve creative uses of common materials to reduce cost, while maintaining uncompromised performance. Here we combine a commercially available paraffin wax-polyolefin thermoplastic blend (elastomer matrix binder) with bulk-produced carbon nanofibres (charge percolation network for electron transport, and for imparting nanoscale roughness) to fabricate adherent thin-film composite electrodes. The simple wet-based process produces composite films capable of sustained ultra-high strain (500%) with resilient electrical performance (resistances of the order of 10(1)-10(2) Ω sq(-1)). The composites are also designed to be superhydrophobic for long-term corrosion protection, even maintaining extreme liquid repellency at severe strain. Comprised of inexpensive common materials applied in a single step, the present scalable approach eliminates manufacturing obstacles for commercially viable wearable electronics, flexible power storage devices and corrosion-resistant circuits.

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