We have developed an innovative approach to fabricate strain sensor which can measure strain up to 100%. The high-strain sensor with excellent conformability can be applied onto arbitrary surfaces for a broad range of applications such as health-monitoring patch, robotic sensory skin and kinesthetic sensing etc. Stretchable electronics with excellent mechanical compliance are considered to be of significant importance for the development of smart and interactive electronic systems.
Strain sensors are electronic devices which can convert the mechanical deformations into electrical signal. The electrical signal can be detected and processed by the electronic systems for monitoring or controlling purpose. Existing products are mainly based on bulky technologies which can only detect limited deformations with a few percent stretching strains due to the rigid form of sensing materials. A strain sensor with high stretchability is required for applications which require high mechanical deformations. For instance, the motion of human joints can easily reach a strain beyond 50% upon stretching and contracting. The stretching strain by textiles is above 80%. In this technology, we have developed innovative materials and fabrication approach to enable strain sensor which can accommodate high stretching strain up to 100%. The strain sensor may seek broad applications for strain sensing and motion monitoring in electronic products such as e-textiles and smart sport garments.
Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages
The technology comprises the developed materials for the high strain sensing applications and the approach to embed the sensing materials into elastomers for device fabrication. With the embedding process, the stretchability of the sensing materials can be improved from 6% to 100%. The relative resistance change of the strain sensor ((R-R0)/R0, R is the resistance of the strain sensor under stretch, R0 is the resistance of the sensor at 0% strain) reaches 710% at 100% strain. The gauge factor is 7.1 at 100%, which is >10 times higher compared to strain sensor prepared with CNT and AgNW. A prototype device is also presented by implanting the strain sensor onto a data gloves which can provide real-time detection on the finger movement.
The strain sensor will have broad applications for strain sensing and motion monitoring applications. The sensor can be implanted onto textiles for wearable smart devices. The electronic textile can be used in sport garments for movement tracking. The precise motion detection and record of the athletes can be used for training purpose and preventing injuries from over stretching. The strain sensor can also be integrated into electronic gloves which can be used to detect the human finger motion for interactive and kinesthetic systems in tele-surgery, robotic control, or virtual-reality apparatus.
Potential customer such as physiotherapy patients, high performance sports athletes could enjoy high precision motion detection and monitoring. The multidimensional soft strain sensors will benefit human machine interface and interactive systems in kinaesthetic, tele-surgery, robotics or virtual reality apparatus.