Wash-stable, oxidation resistant conductive cotton electrodes for wearable electronics
Commercial, untreated cotton fabrics have been directly silver coated using one-step electroless deposition and, subsequently, conformally encapsulated with a thin layer of poly(perfluorodecylacrylate) (PFDA) using initiated chemical vapor deposition (iCVD). The surface of these PFDA encapsulated fabrics are notably water-repellent while still displaying a surface resistance as low as 0.2 Ω cm−1, making them suitable for incorporation into launderable wearable electronics. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy confirms that the PFDA encapsulation prevents oxidation of the silver coating, whereas unencapsulated samples display detrimental silver oxidation after a month of air exposure. The wash stability of PFDA-encapsulated, silver-coated cotton is evaluated using accelerated laundering conditions, following established AATCC protocols, and the samples are observed to withstand up to twenty home laundering cycles without notable mechanical degradation of the vapor-deposited PFDA encapsulation. As a proof-of-concept, PFDA-Ag cotton is employed as a top and bottom electrode in a layered, all-fabric triboelectric generator that produces voltage outputs as high as 25 V with small touch actions, such as tapping.