Issue Date: January 2, 2017
Ionic conducting stretchy, transparent polymer heals mechanical damage autonomously
By designing a polar polymer and treating it with an ionic liquid, researchers have prepared a transparent, highly stretchable ionic conductor with the ability to autonomously heal mechanical damage (Adv. Mater. 2016, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201605099). The material may lead to applications in electrically activated transparent actuators and artificial muscles and skin that can sense touch. Numerous research teams have demonstrated self-healing, stretchy materials and stretchable, transparent conductors. But combining all of those properties in a single material has remained challenging. A team led by Chao Wang of the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Colorado’s Christoph Keplinger has succeeded in making such a material by harnessing forces between charged moieties in a highly fluorinated imidazolium ionic liquid and polar segments of a custom-made stretchable, transparent polymer—poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoropropylene). The forces drive polymer chain cross-linking, a self-healing mechanism. The team used a film of the material in an electrically activated artificial muscle device. Then they cut the film, left the pieces in contact with each other, and reactivated the device 24 hours later. The self-healed film showed some scarring but functioned as well as a pristine film.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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