Electronic skin (e-skin) materials have gained a wide range of attention due to their multiple applications in different areas, including soft robotics, skin attachable electronics, prosthetics, and health care. These materials are required to emulate tactile perceptions and sense the surrounding environments while maintaining properties such as flexibility and stretchability. Current e-skin fabrication techniques, such as photolithography, screen printing, lamination, and laser reducing, have limitations in terms of costs and manufacturing scalability, which ultimately preventing e-skin widespread usage. In this work, we introduce conductive stretchable 3D printable skin-like nanocomposite material. Our nanocomposite is easily 3D printed, cost-effective, and actively senses physical stimuli, such as strain and pressure, which gave them the potential to be used in prosthetics, skin-attachable electronics, and soft robotics applications. Using the conductive properties of carbon nanofibers, alongside a polymeric matrix based on Smooth-on platinum cured silicone and crosslinked PDMS, we can obtain a flexible and stretchable material that resembles human skin and can conduct electricity. A great advantage in our composite is the ability to tune its mechanical properties to fit the desired application area through varying PDMS's chain lengths and composition ratios in the nanocomposite. Also, the interconnecting network of micrometer-long nanofibers allows the measurement of resistivity changes upon physical stimuli, granting the nanocomposite sensing abilities. Moreover, we explored and optimized 3D printing of the nanocomposite material, which offering simplicity and versatility for fabricating complex 3D structures at lower costs.
|Date made available
|KAUST Research Repository