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Highly stretchable, transparent ionic touch panel

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Science  12 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6300, pp. 682-687
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8810

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Soft and still responsive

Transparent touch screens, from large-panel interactive information maps to advanced cell phones, have become a part of daily life. However, such devices all use hard materials. Kim et al. have developed a soft touch panel based on polyacrylamide hydrogels (cross-linked polymers swollen with water) that are highly transparent and contain trapped LiCl to enhance conductivity. The hydrogels are soft and can be stretched extensively while still maintaining touch sensitivity.

Science, this issue p. 682

Abstract

Because human-computer interactions are increasingly important, touch panels may require stretchability and biocompatibility in order to allow integration with the human body. However, most touch panels have been developed based on stiff and brittle electrodes. We demonstrate an ionic touch panel based on a polyacrylamide hydrogel containing lithium chloride salts. The panel is soft and stretchable, so it can sustain a large deformation. The panel can freely transmit light information because the hydrogel is transparent, with 98% transmittance for visible light. A surface-capacitive touch system was adopted to sense a touched position. The panel can be operated under more than 1000% areal strain without sacrificing its functionalities. Epidermal touch panel use on skin was demonstrated by writing words, playing a piano, and playing games.

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