Research progress on stretchable conductive hydrogels for strain sensing

Recently, the team of Zeng Wei, a researcher at the Institute of Chemical Engineering of the Guangdong Academy of Sciences, and Wen Jinxiu, associate professor of Wuyi University, have made new progress in the research of stretchable conductive hydrogels combined with microelectronic devices for strain sensing. The related research paper was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry C.

Synthetic route of double-network hydrogels. Photo courtesy of the research team

As a core component of wearable devices, flexible strain sensors have been widely used in personal health management, motion detection and electronic skin. Conductive hydrogels have excellent flexibility, tensile and biocompatibility and are a promising candidate material. However, the problem of poor recovery of hydrogel strain sensors in large strains needs to be broken.

The researchers prepared double-network hydrogels by physical crosslinking and chemical crosslinking, and ensured the mechanical strength of the hydrogel through the chemical crosslinking network composed of polyacrylamide, and the complex cooperation between divalent calcium ions and carboxyl groups in sodium alginate became a physical cross-linking network, which gave the hydrogel excellent recovery and high sensitivity.

The assembled hydrogel sensor shows excellent performance in terms of stretchability and sensitivity, with an elongation of 900%, a short response time (157 ms), high conductivity (1.47 S/m), good sensitivity (strain coefficient 5.42, strain 900%), and strong fatigue resistance (1800 cyclic tensile tests). The hydrogel sensor is pasted on the finger and different parts of the body, the acquisition circuit is designed, the micro-microcomputer is connected, and the collected sensing signal is uploaded to the upper computer for display, which realizes good data acquisition.

This research work provides an idea for the application of hydrogel strain sensor in human motion monitoring.

Xuanshuo Zhang, a master of Guangdong Academy of Sciences and Wuyi University, is the first author of the paper, and Zeng Wei and Wen Jinxiu are co-corresponding authors. The above research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Guangdong Academy of Sciences Special Fund for Building a Domestic First-class Research Institute, and the Guangdong Basic and Applied Basic Project. (Source: China Science News Zhu Hanbin)

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