Materials Engineer Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Next generation textile-based wearable sensing systems will require flexibility and strength to maintain capabilities over a wide range of deformations. However, current material sets used for textile-based skin contacting electrodes lack these key properties, which hinder applications such as electrophysiological sensing. In this work, we present a facile spray coating approach to integrate liquid metal nanoparticle systems into textile form factors for conformal, flexible and robust electrodes. The liquid metal system employs functionalized liquid metal nanoparticles that provide a simple "peel-off to activate" means of imparting conductivity. The spray coating approach combined with our functionalized liquid metal system enables the creation of long-term reusable textile-integrated liquid metal electrodes (TILEs). Although the TILEs are dry electrodes by nature, they show equal skin-electrode impedances and sensing capabilities with improved wearability compared to commercial wet electrodes. Biocompatibility of TILEs in an in-vivo skin environment was demonstrated, while providing improved sensing performance compared to previously reported textile-based dry electrodes. The "spray on dry - behave like wet" characteristics of TILEs opens opportunities for textile-based wearable health monitoring, haptics, and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) applications that require the use of flexible and conformable dry electrodes.