The effect of dual-scale carbon fibre network on sensitivity and stretchability of wearable sensors

Fan Zhang, Shuying Wu, Shuhua Peng, Chun H. Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sensitivity and stretchability are two key characteristics of wearable sensors and tactile sensors for soft robotics. Here, we present a new technique to increase the sensitivity of wearable sensors by creating a conductive network of dual-scale carbon fibres, i.e., carbon nanofibres (CNFs) and short carbon fibres (SCFs), in a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) matrix. To quantify the effects of this dual-scale carbon fibre network on the stretchability, sensitivity, and stability under repeated loading, comprehensive experiments were conducted to characterise the electrical conductivity, mechanical properties, and piezoresistivity of the resultant PDMS composites with varying concentrations of carbon fibres. The Prony series model of viscoelasticity was adapted to model the strain-rate dependent behaviour of the new sensors. The results reveal that this dual-scale network is able to significantly lower the percolation threshold below that of either of the single-scale composites containing only SCFs or CNFs, indicating a strong synergistic effect. Furthermore, the dual-scale carbon network exhibits higher piezoresistive sensitivity than the CNF-reinforced composite while retaining similar stretchability, thus offering a new technique for creating highly sensitive wearable sensors and tactile sensors for soft robotics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-139
Number of pages9
JournalComposites Science and Technology
Volume165
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • PDMS composites
  • Dual-scale carbon fibres
  • Sensitivity
  • Stretchability
  • Wearable sensors

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