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Highly Compressible and Robust Polyimide/Carbon Nanotube Composite Aerogel for High-Performance Wearable Pressure Sensor

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posted on 29.10.2019, 18:44 by Xiaoyu Chen, Hu Liu, Yanjun Zheng, Yue Zhai, Xianhu Liu, Chuntai Liu, Liwei Mi, Zhanhu Guo, Changyu Shen
Wearable pressure sensors are in great demand with the rapid development of intelligent electronic devices. However, it is still a huge challenge to obtain high-performance pressure sensors with high sensitivity, wide response range, and low detection limit simultaneously. Here, a polyimide (PI)/carbon nanotube (CNT) composite aerogel with the merits of superelastic, high porosity, robust, and high-temperature resistance was successfully prepared through the freeze drying plus thermal imidization process. Benefiting from the strong chemical interactions between PI and CNT and stable electrical property, the composite aerogel exhibits versatile and superior brilliant sensing performance, which includes wide sensing range (80% strain, 61 kPa), ultrahigh sensitivity (11.28 kPa–1), ultralow detection limit (0.1% strain, <10 Pa), fast response time (50 ms) and recovery time (70 ms), remarkable long-term stability (1000 cycles), and exceptional detection ability toward different deformations (compression, distortion, and bending). Furthermore, the composite aerogel also shows stable sensing performance after annealing under different high temperatures and good thermal insulation property, making it workable in various harsh environments. As a result, the composite aerogel is suitable for the full-range human motion detection (including airflow, pulse, vocal cord vibration, and human movement) and precise detection of the pressure distribution when it is assembled into E-skin, demonstrating its great potential to serve as a high-performance wearable pressure sensor.