Research Article

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2018, 11(4): 1938–1955

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https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-017-1811-0

A low-cost, printable, and stretchable strain sensor based on highly conductive elastic composites with tunable sensitivity for human motion monitoring

Yougen Hu1, Tao Zhao1, Pengli Zhu1 (*), Yuan Zhang1,2, Xianwen Liang1, Rong Sun1 (*), Ching-Ping Wong3,4

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1 Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Materials for High Density Electronic Packaging, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen 518055, China
2 Nano Science and Technology Institute, University of Science and Technology of China, Suzhou 215123, China
3 School of Materials Science and Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA
4 Department of Electronic Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 999077, China

Keywords: flexible strain sensor, printable electronics, human motion monitoring, conductive elastic composites, silver-coated polymer spheres
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ABSTRACT Strain sensors with high stretchability, broad strain range, high sensitivity, and good reliability are desirable, owing to their promising applications in electronic skins and human motion monitoring systems. In this paper, we report a highperformance strain sensor based on printable and stretchable electrically conductive elastic composites. This strain sensor is fabricated by mixing silver-coated polystyrene spheres (PS@Ag) and liquid polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and screen-printed to a desirable geometry. The strain sensor exhibits fascinating comprehensive performances, including high electrical conductivity (1.65 × 104 S/m), large workable strain range (> 80%), high sensitivity (gauge factor of 17.5 in strain of 0%–10%, 6.0 in strain of 10%–60% and 78.6 in strain of 60%–80%), inconspicuous resistance overshoot (< 15%), good reproducibility and excellent long-term stability (1,750 h at 85 °C/85% relative humidity) for PS@Ag/PDMS-60, which only contains ~ 36.7 wt.% of silver. Simultaneously, this strain sensor provides the advantages of low-cost, simple, and large-area scalable fabrication, as well as robust mechanical properties and versatility in applications. Based on these performance characteristics, its applications in flexible printed electrodes and monitoring vigorous human motions are demonstrated, revealing its tremendous potential for applications in flexible and wearable electronics.
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A low-cost, printable, and stretchable strain sensor based on highly conductive elastic composites with tunable sensitivity for human motion monitoring. Nano Res. 2018, 11(4): 1938–1955 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-017-1811-0

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