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Highly Sensitive and Stretchable Polyurethane Fiber Strain Sensors with Embedded Silver Nanowires

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posted on 07.06.2019, 00:00 by Guan-Jun Zhu, Peng-Gang Ren, Han Guo, Yan-Ling Jin, Ding-Xiang Yan, Zhong-Ming Li
Flexible strain sensors have attracted a great amount of attention for promising applications in next-generation artificially intelligent devices. However, it is difficult for conventional planar strain sensors to meet the requirements of miniature size and light weight for flexible electronics. Herein, a highly sensitive and stretchable fiber strain sensor with a millimeter diameter was innovatively fabricated by the capillary tube method to integrate silver nanowires (AgNWs) in polyurethane (PU) fibers. Scanning electron microscopy results demonstrate that AgNWs were embedded into the surface layer of PU fibers and formed completely conductive networks. The unique AgNW networks endow the PU/AgNW fibers with superior electrical conductivity of 3.1 S/cm, high elongation at break of 265%, wide response range of 43%, high gauge factor of 87.6 up to 22% strain, fast response time of 49 ms, and excellent reliability and stability. Such satisfactory stretchability and sensitivity is attributed to the combination of the highly stretchable PU matrix and the embedded architecture of the AgNW conductive network. Moreover, PU/AgNW fibers can be employed as wearable devices to detect various human motions and to drive light-emitting diodes at a lower voltage (2.7 V).