Sticky gecko-inspired material conducts electricity | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 94 Issue 15 | p. 8 | Concentrates
Issue Date: April 11, 2016

Sticky gecko-inspired material conducts electricity

Flexible adhesive patch could lead to better electrodes for heart monitors and fitness sensors
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Materials SCENE, Nano SCENE
Keywords: adhesives, gecko, conductive polymer, PDMS, wearable electronics, electronic skin, electrocardiography, electrodes, heart monitoring
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These 15-µm-tall conductive silicone pillars mimic the hairlike features on sticky gecko feet.
Credit: ACS Nano
Scanning electron micrograph of conductive adhesive patch.
 
These 15-µm-tall conductive silicone pillars mimic the hairlike features on sticky gecko feet.
Credit: ACS Nano

A new take on adhesives inspired by sticky gecko feet has led to stretchy silicone patches that conduct electricity and cling fast to skin, even underwater (ACS Nano 2016, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b01355). The material could be used as comfortable, low-cost, reusable electrodes for heart monitors, fitness sensors, or wearable electronics. A team led by materials scientist Seokwoo Jeon of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) mixed conductive carbon nanotubes and graphene nanopowder into polydimethylsiloxane and poured the composite into a silicon mold dotted with holes. After curing the elastomer at 120 °C for two hours, they had a 10- by 10-cm square patch covered with 15-µm-tall golf-tee-shaped pillars. These shapes mimic the microscopic, hairlike features on gecko feet that can cling to surfaces via van der Waals interactions. When a volunteer wore the patch wired to an electrocardiography recorder, the team measured heartbeat signals that matched those from a commercial electrode. What’s more, the patch conducted signals when attached to an arm submerged in water, whereas the commercial electrode came off within five seconds.

 
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ISSN 0009-2347
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