Traditional liquid metal-based conductors often require complex secondary activation processes, which can lead to device failure due to leakage. A research team led by Tao Zhou has developed a novel method combining liquid metal, the conductive polymer PEDOT, and hydrophilic polyurethane to address these challenges.

This innovative composition allows the material to self-assemble during the printing and heating process. The liquid metal particles form a conductive pathway on the material’s bottom surface while oxidizing to create an insulated top layer. This dual-layer structure ensures accurate data collection by preventing signal leakage.

Unlike traditional methods, this new material does not require secondary activation to achieve conductivity, significantly simplifying the fabrication of wearable devices. This advancement in materials science enables the creation of sensors that can be worn on the body, such as those for muscle activity recordings and strain sensing. The researchers are continuing to explore applications, particularly in assistive technology for people with disabilities.

This work, published in Advanced Materials, was supported by various Penn State departments and collaborative programs.

By Impact Lab