A process to fabricate stretchable and adherent gold tracks on flat silicone rubber substrates is studied by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), static water contact angle measurement, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The process involves several steps: curing flat silicone substrate; removing uncured oligomers by hexane Soxhlet extraction; pre-stretching the substrate; activating the strained silicone surface by an oxygen plasma treatment; coating the strained substrate with 5nm titanium and 80nm gold layers by e-beam evaporation; and finally releasing the sample. The plasma treatment creates a thin brittle silica-like layer that temporarily increases the substrate's surface energy. Indeed the plasma treatment is followed by a hydrophobic recovery. As a consequence, the delay between plasma treatment and metal deposition has to be reduced as much as possible. The silica-like layer can be nicely observed after release. Its thickness is estimated to be around 20nm to 50nm. The entire process allows us to obtain stretchable metallized samples that remain conductive even after an excessive deformation leading to electrical failure.
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