Strain sensors with adjustable sensitivity by tailoring the microstructure of graphene aerogel/PDMS nanocomposites

Shuying Wu, Raj B. Ladani, Jin Zhang, Kamran Ghorbani, Xuehua Zhang, Adrian P. Mouritz, Anthony J. Kinloch, Chun H. Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

122 Citations (Scopus)


Strain sensors with high elastic limit and high sensitivity are required to meet the rising demand for wearable electronics. Here, we present the fabrication of highly sensitive strain sensors based on nanocomposites consisting of graphene aerogel (GA) and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), with the primary focus being to tune the sensitivity of the sensors by tailoring the cellular microstructure through controlling the manufacturing processes. The resultant nanocomposite sensors exhibit a high sensitivity with a gauge factor of up to approximately 61.3. Of significant importance is that the sensitivity of the strain sensors can be readily altered by changing the concentration of the precursor (i.e., an aqueous dispersion of graphene oxide) and the freezing temperature used to process the GA. The results reveal that these two parameters control the cell size and cell-wall thickness of the resultant GA, which may be correlated to the observed variations in the sensitivities of the strain sensors. The higher is the concentration of graphene oxide, then the lower is the sensitivity of the resultant nanocomposite strain sensor. Upon increasing the freezing temperature from -196 to -20 °C, the sensitivity increases and reaches a maximum value of 61.3 at -50 °C and then decreases with a further increase in freezing temperature to -20 °C. Furthermore, the strain sensors offer excellent durability and stability, with their piezoresistivities remaining virtually unchanged even after 10000 cycles of high-strain loading-unloading. These novel findings pave the way to custom design strain sensors with a desirable piezoresistive behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24853-24861
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • graphene aerogel
  • polydimethylsiloxane
  • microstructure
  • adjustable piezoresistivity
  • strain sensor

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