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Flexible Nanowire Sensors Could Monitor Strain and Pressure

New “stretchy” sensors built on nanowire conductors could potentially be embedded in clothing, or on human skin and other surfaces to track strain and pressure, or provide touch-based functionality in new form factors.

North Carolina State University researchers created the sensors using technology developed by team leader Dr. Yong Zhu. Zhu made elastic conductors from carbon nanotubes by pouring a liquid polymer over silver nanowires on a silicon plate, and then peeling the form off of the silicon.

The new sensor can be stretched to 150% of its original length.

The sensor can monitor capacitance, including changes caused by pushing, pulling or touching the conductors. So far, the researchers have used the sensors to monitor thumb movement and knee movements. They also developed an array of sensors to map pressure distribution. The sensors exhibited a response time of 40 milliseconds, and could monitor strain and pressure in real time.

“These sensors could be used to help develop prosthetics that respond to a user’s movement and provide feedback when in use,” said Zhu, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State and senior author of the research. “They could also be used to create robotics that can ‘feel’ their environment, or the sensors could be incorporated into clothing to track motion or monitor an individual’s physical health.”

You can read the team’s recently published paper in Nanoscale here.

Source: North Carolina State University

About Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@digitaleng.news.