Polymer Engineering Faculty Research


Flexible Thick-Film Electrochemical Sensors: Impact of Mechanical Bending and Stress on the Electrochemical Behavior

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Publication Date

Fall 2009


The influence of the mechanical bending, rolling and crimping of flexible screen-printed electrodes upon their electrical properties and electrochemical behavior has been elucidated. Three different flexible plastic substrates, Mylar, polyethylene naphthalate (PEN), and Kapton, have been tested in connection to the printing of graphite ink working electrodes. Our data indicate that flexible printed electrodes can be bent to extremely small radii of curvature and still function well, despite a marginal increase the electrical resistance. Below critical radii of curvature of ~8 mm, full recovery of the electrical resistance occurs upon strain release. The electrochemical response is maintained for sub-mm bending radii and a 180° pinch of the electrode does not lead to device failure. The electrodes appear to be resistant to repeated bending. Such capabilities are demonstrated using model compounds, including ferrocyanide, trinitrotoluene (TNT) and nitronaphthalene (NN). These printed electrodes hold great promise for widespread applications requiring flexible, yet robust non-planar sensing devices.



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