Fatigue-free artificial ionic skin toughened by self-healable elastic nanomesh



Jiqiang Wang, Baohu Wu, Peng Wei, Shengtong Sun*, and Peiyi Wu*. Fatigue-free artificial ionic skin toughened by self-healable elastic nanomesh. Nat. Commun. 2022, 13, 4411.




Robust ionic sensing materials that are both fatigue-resistant and self-healable like human skin are essential for soft electronics and robotics with extended service life. However, most existing self-healable artificial ionic skins produced on the basis of network reconfiguration suffer from a low fatigue threshold due to the easy fracture of low-energy amorphous polymer chains with susceptible crack propagation. Here we engineer a fatigue-free yet fully healable hybrid ionic skin toughened by a high-energy, self-healable elastic nanomesh, resembling the repairable nanofibrous interwoven structure of human skin. Such a design affords a superhigh fatigue threshold of 2950 J m−2 while maintaining skin-like compliance, stretchability, and strain-adaptive stiffening response. Moreover, nanofiber tension-induced moisture breathing of ionic matrix leads to a record-high strain-sensing gauge factor of 66.8, far exceeding previous intrinsically stretchable ionic conductors. This concept creates opportunities for designing durable ion-conducting materials that replicate the unparalleled combinatory properties of natural skins more precisely.