Highly Stretchable and Transparent Microfluidic Strain Sensors for Monitoring Human Body Motions

We report a new class of simple microfluidic strain sensors with high stretchability, transparency, sensitivity, and long-term stability with no considerable hysteresis and a fast response to various deformations by combining the merits of microfluidic techniques and ionic liquids. The high optical transparency of the strain sensors was achieved by introducing refractive-index matched ionic liquids into microfluidic networks or channels embedded in an elastomeric matrix. The microfluidic strain sensors offer the outstanding sensor performance under a variety of deformations induced by stretching, bending, pressing, and twisting of the microfluidic strain sensors. The principle of our microfluidic strain sensor is explained by a theoretical model based on the elastic channel deformation. In order to demonstrate its capability of practical usage, the simple-structured microfluidic strain sensors were performed onto a finger, wrist, and arm. The highly stretchable and transparent microfluidic strain sensors were successfully applied as potential platforms for distinctively monitoring a wide range of human body motions in real time. Our novel microfluidic strain sensors show great promise for making future stretchable electronic devices.