Highly Sensitive, Stretchable, and Robust Strain Sensor Based on Crack Propagation and Opening
Wu, S., Moody, K., Kollipara, A., & Zhu, Y. (2022, December 22). ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES.
Soft and stretchable strain sensors have been attracting significant attention. However, the trade-off between the sensitivity (gauge factor) and the sensing range has been a major challenge. In this work, we report a soft stretchable resistive strain sensor with an unusual combination of high sensitivity, large sensing range, and high robustness. The sensor is made of a silver nanowire network embedded below the surface of an elastomeric matrix (e.g., poly(dimethylsiloxane)). Periodic mechanical cuts are applied to the top surface of the sensor, changing the current flow from uniformly across the sensor to along the conducting path defined by the open cracks. Both experiment and finite element analysis are conducted to study the effect of the slit depth, slit length, and pitch between the slits. The stretchable strain sensor can be integrated into wearable systems for monitoring physiological functions and body motions associated with different levels of strain, such as blood pressure and lower back health. Finally, a soft three-dimensional (3D) touch sensor that tracks both normal and shear stresses is developed for human–machine interfaces and tactile sensing for robotics.