A sewing-enabled stitch-and-transfer method for robust, ultra-stretchable, conductive interconnects


R. Rahimi, M. Ochoa, W. Yu, and B. Ziaie, “A sewing-enabled stitch-and-transfer method for robust, ultra-stretchable, conductive interconnects,” Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, vol. 24, no. 9, 2014.


Fabricating highly stretchable and robust electrical interconnects at low-cost remains an unmet challenge in stretchable electronics. Previously reported stretchable interconnects require complicated fabrication processes with resulting devices exhibiting limited stretchability, poor reliability, and large gauge factors. Here, we demonstrate a novel sew-and-transfer method for rapid fabrication of low-cost, highly stretchable interconnects. Using a commercial sewing machine and double-thread stitch with one of the threads being water soluble polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), thin zigzag-pattern metallic wires are sewn into a polymeric film and are subsequently transferred onto a stretchable elastomeric substrate by dissolving PVA in warm water. The resulting structures exhibit extreme stretchability (exceeding 500% strain for a zigzag angle of 18 °) and robustness (capable of withstanding repeated stretch-and-release cycles of 15000 at 110% strain, 50000 at 55% strain, and  > 120000 at 30% strain without any noticeable change in resistance even at maximum strain levels). Using this technique, we demonstrate a stretchable inductive strain sensor for monitoring balloon expansion in a Foley urinary catheter capable of detecting the balloon diameter change from 9 mm to 38 mm with an average sensitivity of 4 nH/mm.