Nanotechnology

Hydrogel based flexible electronics

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April 11, 2023

(Nanowerk Highlights) Flexible electronics, which can maintain their function under various conditions such as bending, rolling, folding or stretching, have made significant progress in recent years. These electronics have developed into a wide variety of applications, including flexible sensors for monitoring physical and chemical changes, energy harvesting devices for converting mechanical or thermal energy into electrical energy, flexible energy storage devices such as batteries and supercapacitors, flexible transistors, and flexible display screens. used in smartphones and wearable devices.

Hydrogels have emerged as promising candidates for developing bioelectronics, connecting living biological tissues with synthetic electronic systems. These hydrogels closely resemble the mechanical, chemical and optical properties of biological tissues, making them ideal for use in flexible electronic devices.

Hydrogels are soft, bendable, stretchable and have self-healing properties due to their versatility in mechanical and bio-functional engineering. As a result, hydrogel-based flexible electronics can better adapt to and interact with biological tissues and organisms than traditional electronic components, which are often rigid, dry, or incompatible with human tissue.

In this context, recent methods for synthesizing functional hydrogels and their applications in various fields have been reviewed Advanced Materials (“Hydrogel Based Flexible Electronics”), highlighting the relationship between hydrogel properties and device performance. This understanding could pave the way for further development of flexible electronics using environmentally responsive hydrogels.

In addition, this review provides insight into the current challenges and future directions for developing multifunctional hydrogel-based flexible electronics, which can improve performance and scope of application in this emerging field. Key features of hydrogels and their applications in flexible electronics Key features of hydrogels and their applications in flexible electronics. (Reprinted with permission by Wiley-VCH Verlag)

This review provides a detailed overview of hydrogels, approaches to enhancing hydrogen functionality, and flexible electronic applications based on hydrogels such as sensors, energy harvesting and storage devices, actuators, transistors, electromagnetic shielding, touch screens, and devices for controlled drug release.

Recent research in hydrogel-based flexible electronics has mainly focused on overcoming their inherent limitations. One major limitation is its poor conductivity, which makes it difficult to print circuits directly on hydrogels. To overcome this problem, researchers have explored various approaches, such as incorporating conductive fillers or dopants, choosing hydrogels made from conductive polymers, and introducing a dual-network strategy that incorporates both conductive and non-conductive elements in the hydrogel structure.

Another challenge is the mechanical weakness of hydrogels, which may limit their durability and performance in flexible electronics. To improve their mechanical properties, researchers have experimented with adding fillers or dopants to increase the strength of the hydrogels, adopting energy dissipation platforms to distribute pressure more effectively, using anisotropic materials that exhibit different properties in different directions, and using hybrid systems that combine several materials. to achieve better overall performance.

Self-healing ability is an important parameter for electronic skins, which can mimic the sense of touch and monitor vital signs. Various methods have been investigated to realize self-healing in hydrogels, which can be categorized under two main approaches: those based on dynamic covalent bonds which can form and break reversibly, and those based on noncovalent bonds, such as hydrogen bonds or ionic interactions. Overview of hydrogels and approaches to improve their functionality for hydrogel-based flexible electronics Overview of hydrogels and approaches to improve their functionality for hydrogel-based flexible electronics. (Reprinted with permission by Wiley-VCH Verlag)

Despite significant progress in developing hydrogel-based flexible electronics, challenges remain. This includes integrating multiple functions into a single device, making it adaptable and adaptable to different needs and circumstances, and enhancing wearability or implantability for seamless integration with biological systems. In addition, the long-term stability, temperature-related performance and self-healing ability of hydrogels need to be improved to meet the functional requirements of data collection and communication.

To address this challenge, researchers are leveraging the convergence of multiple technological innovations, such as the discovery of new materials, new properties and functions of conventional materials, advances in materials processing such as additive manufacturing, and enhancements to wireless communications such as advanced Bluetooth or NFC technologies. These innovations and synergies accelerate the development of robust flexible electronics, bringing them closer to becoming an integral part of our everyday lives. By
Michael is the author of three books by the Royal Society of Chemistry:
Nano-Society: Pushing the Boundaries of Technology,
Nanotechnology: A Small FutureAnd
Nanoengineering: Skills and Tools for Making Technology Invisible
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