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Ionoelastomer junctions between polymer networks of fixed anions and cations

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Science  14 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6479, pp. 773-776
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay8467

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Ionic elastomeric material electronics

Wearable devices often need to be soft or flexible, and ideally, these properties would extend beyond packaging material to also include the electronics. Some soft ionic conductors have been made in the form of flexible, stretchable, and transparent devices, but leaks from these materials is a concern. Kim et al. demonstrate ionic elastomeric diodes and transistors that harness ionic double layers to rectify and switch ionic currents (see the Perspective by Gao and Lee). This is achieved without trapped liquids by fixing the anions or cations to an elastomer network while the other species of ions remain mobile.

Science, this issue p. 773; see also p. 735

Abstract

Soft ionic conductors have enabled stretchable and transparent devices, but liquids in such devices tend to leak and evaporate. In this study, we demonstrate diodes and transistors using liquid-free ionoelastomers, in which either anions or cations are fixed to an elastomer network and the other ionic species are mobile. The junction of the two ionoelastomers of opposite polarity yields an ionic double layer, which is capable of rectifying and switching ionic currents without electrochemical reactions. The entropically driven depletion of mobile ions creates a junction of tough adhesion, and the stretchability of the junction enables electromechanical transduction.

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