Floating compression of Ag nanowire networks for effective strain release of stretchable transparent electrodes†
Manipulation of the configuration of Ag nanowire (NW) networks has been pursued to enhance the performance of stretchable transparent electrodes. However, it has remained challenging due to the high Young's modulus and low yield strain of Ag NWs, which lead to their mechanical failure when subjected to structural deformation. We demonstrate that floating a Ag NW network on water and subsequent in-plane compression allows convenient development of a wavy configuration in the Ag NW network, which can release the applied strain. A greatly enhanced electromechanical stability of Ag NW networks can be achieved due to their wavy configuration, while the NW networks maintain the desirable optical and electrical properties. Moreover, the produced NW networks can be transferred to a variety of substrates, offering flexibility for device fabrication. The Ag NW networks with wavy configurations are used as compliant electrodes for dielectric elastomer actuators. The study demonstrates their promising potential to provide improved performance for soft electronic devices.