Stretchable, adhesive and ultra-conformable elastomer thin films
Thermoplastic elastomers are attractive materials because of the drastic changes in their physical properties above and below the glass transition temperature (Tg). In this paper, we report that free-standing polystyrene (PS, Tg: 100 °C) and polystyrene–polybutadiene–polystyrene triblock copolymer (SBS, Tg: −70 °C) thin films with a thickness of hundreds of nanometers were prepared by a gravure coating method. Among the mechanical properties of these thin films determined by bulge testing and tensile testing, the SBS thin films exhibited a much lower elastic modulus (ca. 0.045 GPa, 212 nm thickness) in comparison with the PS thin films (ca. 1.19 GPa, 217 nm thickness). The lower elastic modulus and lower thickness of the SBS thin films resulted in higher conformability and thus higher strength of adhesion to an uneven surface such as an artificial skin model with roughness (Ra = 10.6 μm), even though they both have similar surface energies. By analyzing the mechanical properties of the SBS thin films, the elastic modulus and thickness of the thin films were strongly correlated with their conformability to a rough surface, which thus led to a high adhesive strength. Therefore, the SBS thin films will be useful as coating layers for a variety of materials.