Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Printable, electrically conductive gel with unprecedented electrical performance synthesized

Date:
July 4, 2012
Source:
Stanford University
Summary:
Researchers have invented an electrically conductive gel that is quick and easy to make, can be patterned onto surfaces with an inkjet printer and demonstrates unprecedented electrical performance.

Postdoctoral fellow Guihua Yu, Associate Professor Zhenan Bao and visiting scholar Lijia Pan examine the hydrogel made in the Bao lab.
Credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

Stanford researchers have invented an electrically conductive gel that is quick and easy to make, can be patterned onto surfaces with an inkjet printer and demonstrates unprecedented electrical performance.

The material, created by Stanford chemical engineering Associate Professor Zhenan Bao, materials science and engineering Associate Professor Yi Cui and members of their labs, is a kind of conducting hydrogel -- a jelly that feels and behaves like biological tissues, but conducts electricity like a metal or semiconductor.

That combination of characteristics holds enormous promise for biological sensors and futuristic energy storage devices, but has proven difficult to manufacture until now.

The research recently appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Printing Jell-O

Bao and Cui made the gel by binding long chains of the organic compound aniline together with phytic acid, found naturally in plant tissues. The acid is able to grab up to six polymer chains at once, making for an extensively cross-linked network.

"There are already commercially available conducting polymers," said Bao, "but they all form a uniform film without any nanostructures."

In contrast, the new gel's cross-linking makes for a complex, sponge-like structure. The hydrogel is marked with innumerable tiny pores that expand the gel's surface area, increasing the amount of charge it can hold, its ability to sense chemicals, and the rapidity of its electrical response.

Still, the gel can be easily manipulated. Because the material doesn't solidify until the last step of its synthesis, it can be printed or sprayed as a liquid and turned into a gel after it's already in place -- meaning that manufacturers should be able to construct intricately patterned electrodes at low cost.

"You can't print Jell-O," said Cui. "But with this technique, we can print it and make it Jell-O later."

Soft electrodes

The material's unusual structure also gives the gel what Cui referred to as "remarkable electronic properties."

Most hydrogels are tied together by a large number of insulating molecules, reducing the material's overall ability to pass electrical current. But phytic acid is a "small-molecule dopant" -- meaning that when it links polymer chains, it also lends them charge. This effect makes the hydrogel highly conductive.

The gel's conductance is "among the best you can get through this kind of process," said Cui. Its capacity to hold charge is very high, and its response to applied charge is unusually fast.

The substance's similarity to biological tissues, its large surface area and its electrical capabilities make it well suited for allowing biological systems to communicate with technological hardware.

The researchers envision it being used in everything from medical probes and laboratory biological sensors to biofuel cells and high-energy density capacitors.

"And all it's made of are commercially available ingredients thrown into a water solution," said Bao.

The paper's first authors are Guihua Yu, a postdoctoral fellow in chemical engineering at Stanford, and Lijia Pan, a visiting scholar in chemical engineering from Nanjing University, China.

Stanford's Precourt Institute for Energy funded the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University. The original article was written by Max McClure. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Pan, G. Yu, D. Zhai, H. R. Lee, W. Zhao, N. Liu, H. Wang, B. C.- K. Tee, Y. Shi, Y. Cui, Z. Bao. Hierarchical nanostructured conducting polymer hydrogel with high electrochemical activity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; 109 (24): 9287 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1202636109

Cite This Page:

Stanford University. "Printable, electrically conductive gel with unprecedented electrical performance synthesized." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120704182543.htm>.
Stanford University. (2012, July 4). Printable, electrically conductive gel with unprecedented electrical performance synthesized. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120704182543.htm
Stanford University. "Printable, electrically conductive gel with unprecedented electrical performance synthesized." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120704182543.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

TheStreet (Apr. 16, 2014) The Porsche Spyder 918 proves that, in an automotive world obsessed with fuel efficiency, the supercar is not dead. Porsche North America CEO Detlev von Platen attributes the brand's consistent sales growth -- 21% in 2013 -- with an investment in new technology and expanded performance dynamics. The hybrid Spyder 918 has 887 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque, but it can run 18 miles on just an electric charge. The $845,000 vehicle is not a consumer-targeted vehicle but a brand statement. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins