Highly Sensitive Strain Sensor Based on a Stretchable and Conductive Poly(vinyl alcohol)/Phytic Acid/NH2-POSS Hydrogel with a 3D Microporous Structure
Conductive hydrogel-based wearable strain sensors with tough, stretchable, self-recoverable, and highly sensitive properties are highly demanded for applications in electronic skin and human-machine interface. However, currently, hydrogel-based strain sensors put forward higher requirements on their biocompatibility, mechanical strength, and sensitivity. Herein, we report a poly(vinyl alcohol)/phytic acid/amino-polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (PVA/PA/NH2-POSS) conductive composite hydrogel prepared via a facile freeze-thaw cycle method. Within this hydrogel, PA acts as a cross-linking agent and ionizes hydrogen ions to endow the material with ionic conductivity, while NH2-POSS acts as a second cross-linking agent by increasing the cross-linking density of the three-dimensional network structure. The effect of the content of NH2-POSS is investigated, and the composite hydrogel with 2 wt % NH2-POSS displays a uniform and dense three-dimensional (3D) network microporous structure, high conductivity of 2.41 S/m, and tensile strength and elongation at break of 361 kPa and 363%, respectively. This hydrogel is biocompatible and has demonstrated the application as a strain sensor monitoring different human movements. The assembled sensor is stretchable, self-recoverable, and highly sensitive with fast response time (220 ms) and excellent sensitivity (GF = 3.44).