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Elastic and Conductive Bioinspired Skin-Like Membrane with Excellent Adhesion

A simple method to create elastic and conductive Janus membranes with exceptional adhesion for advanced flexible multifunctional electronics has been put forth by scientists at the Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering (NIMTE) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, led by Prof. Tao Chen.

Elastic and Conductive Bioinspired Skin-Like Membrane with Excellent Adhesion.
The bioinspired conformal and adhesive membrane. Image Credit: Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering.

The research was published in the journal Chemistry of Materials.

Wearable electronics have received a lot of attention from investigators as a result of their portability, flexibility, and soft features, particularly in the areas of mobile health monitoring, human–machine interaction, and soft robotics. However, it is still difficult to create skin-like membranes with improved interfacial conformality and adhesion using a simple and effective method.

By secreting proteins, marine organisms like barnacles are able to achieve strong adhesion. The barnacle secretes mucus to completely wet the topological surfaces, and after several hours of curing, the mucus condenses into a gelatinous layer with high adhesion.

The carbon nanotubes (CNTs)/Ecoflex Janus membrane was created on the water’s surface by NIMTE researchers who were inspired by barnacles. The membrane underwent a two-step curing process after that, including partial curing for full spreading on substrates and full curing for improved conformal adhesion.

The Janus membrane could be further incorporated into wearable conformal electronics, the researchers claim, realizing high-efficiency differentiation of the reverse fine deformation as well as efficient and stable detection of traditional unidirectional bending deformation.

Additionally, the wearable electronics that the team devised can adapt to the hierarchically wrinkled paper surface, allowing for real-time dynamic detection of the paper-folding behavior.

An artificial trunk with wrinkles based on the Janus membrane was created as a proof of concept for motion differentiation and bidirectional bending deformation monitoring.

This investigation of a bioinspired membrane with improved adhesion may provide insight into the simple and effective fabrication of soft robotics and wearable electronics with multiple functions.

The Natural Science Foundation of China, the Open Research Projects of Zhejiang Lab, the Sino-German Mobility Program, etc. all provided funding for this study.

Journal Reference:

Wang, X., et al. (2022) Bioinspired Interface-Guided Conformal Janus Membranes with Enhanced Adhesion for Flexible Multifunctional Electronics. Chemistry of Materials.


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