Rehealable, fully recyclable, and malleable electronic skin enabled by dynamic covalent thermoset nanocomposite

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Science Advances  09 Feb 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 2, eaaq0508
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaq0508

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Electronic skin (e-skin) mimicking functionalities and mechanical properties of natural skin can find broad applications. We report the first dynamic covalent thermoset-based e-skin, which is connected through robust covalent bonds, rendering the resulting devices good chemical and thermal stability at service condition. By doping the dynamic covalent thermoset with conductive silver nanoparticles, we demonstrate a robust yet rehealable, fully recyclable, and malleable e-skin. Tactile, temperature, flow, and humidity sensing capabilities are realized. The e-skin can be rehealed when it is damaged and can be fully recycled at room temperature, which has rarely, if at all, been demonstrated for e-skin. After rehealing or recycling, the e-skin regains mechanical and electrical properties comparable to the original e-skin. In addition, malleability enables the e-skin to permanently conform to complex, curved surfaces without introducing excessive interfacial stresses. These properties of the e-skin yield an economical and eco-friendly technology that can find broad applications in robotics, prosthetics, health care, and human-computer interface.

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