Electrically conductive textile coatings with PEDOT:PSS
Abstract: In smart textiles, electrical conductivity is often required for several functions, especially contacting (electroding) and interconnecting. This thesis explores electrically conductive textile surfaces made by combining conventional textile coating methods with the intrinsically conductive polymer complex poly(3,4-ethylene dioxythiophene)-poly(styrene sulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS).PEDOT:PSS was used in textile coating formulations including polymer binder, ethylene glycol (EG) and rheology modifier. Shear viscometry was used to identify suitable viscosities of the formulations for each coating method. The coating methods were knife coating, pad coating and screen printing. The first part of the work studied the influence of composition of the coating formulation, the amount of coating and the film formation process on the surface resistivity and the surface appearance of knife-coated textiles. The electrical resistivity was largely affected by the amount of PEDOT:PSS in the coating and indicated percolation behaviour within the system. Addition of a high-boiling solvent, i.e. EG, decreased the surface resistivity with more than four orders of magnitude. Studies of tear strength and bending rigidity showed that textiles coated with formulations containing larger amounts of PEDOT:PSS and EG were softer, more ductile and stronger than those coated with formulations containing more binder. The coated textiles were found to be durable to abrasion and cyclic strain, as well as quite resilient to the harsh treatment of shear flexing. Washing increased the surface resistivity, but the samples remained conductive after five wash cycles.The second part of the work focused on using the coatings to transfer the voltage signal from piezoelectric textile fibres; the coatings were first applied using pad coating as the outer electrode on a woven sensor and then as screen-printed interconnections in a sensing glove based on stretchy, warp-knitted fabric. Sensor data from the glove was successfully used as input to a microcontroller running a robot gripper. These applications showed the viability of the concept and that the coatings could be made very flexible and integrated into the textile garment without substantial loss of the textile characteristics. The industrial feasibility of the approach was also verified through the variations of coating methods.
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