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Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 22;8(1):1375. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18209-w.

Simple and cost-effective method of highly conductive and elastic carbon nanotube/polydimethylsiloxane composite for wearable electronics.

Author information

1
KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology, Korea University, Seoul, 02841, Republic of Korea.
2
Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Health Science, Korea University, Seoul, 02841, Republic of Korea. jyhwang@korea.ac.kr.
3
International Carbon Research Institute, Korea Institute of Carbon Convergence Technology 110-11 Banryong-ro Deokjin-gu, Jeonju, 54853, Republic of Korea. jyhwang@korea.ac.kr.
4
Department of Nanobiomedical Science and BK21 Plus NBM Global Research Center for Regenerative Medicine, Dankook University, Cheonan, 31116, Republic of Korea.
5
Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Health Science, Korea University, Seoul, 02841, Republic of Korea.

Abstract

The development of various flexible and stretchable materials has attracted interest for promising applications in biomedical engineering and electronics industries. This interest in wearable electronics, stretchable circuits, and flexible displays has created a demand for stable, easily manufactured, and cheap materials. However, the construction of flexible and elastic electronics, on which commercial electronic components can be mounted through simple and cost-effective processing, remains challenging. We have developed a nanocomposite of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomer. To achieve uniform distributions of CNTs within the polymer, an optimized dispersion process was developed using isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and methyl-terminated PDMS in combination with ultrasonication. After vaporizing the IPA, various shapes and sizes can be easily created with the nanocomposite, depending on the mold. The material provides high flexibility, elasticity, and electrical conductivity without requiring a sandwich structure. It is also biocompatible and mechanically stable, as demonstrated by cytotoxicity assays and cyclic strain tests (over 10,000 times). We demonstrate the potential for the healthcare field through strain sensor, flexible electric circuits, and biopotential measurements such as EEG, ECG, and EMG. This simple and cost-effective fabrication method for CNT/PDMS composites provides a promising process and material for various applications of wearable electronics.

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