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Two-Sided Topological Architecture on a Monolithic Flexible Substrate for Ultrasensitive Strain Sensors

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posted on 08.11.2019, 18:37 by He Yu, Yunlu Lian, Teng Sun, Xiaonan Yang, Yang Wang, Guangzhong Xie, Xiaosong Du, Jun Gou, Weizhi Li, Huiling Tai
Flexible ultrasensitive strain sensors are highly desirable in view of their widespread applications in wearable electronics, health monitoring systems, and smart robots, where subtle strain detection is required. However, traditional fabrication of such sensors was done to prepare sensitive layers on bare or single-sided structural substrates, leading to limited sensitivity. Herein, a stretchable resistive-type strain sensor was demonstrated by self-assembling conductive networks onto a monolithic polydimethylsiloxane substrate with a two-sided topological design, for example, a sinusoid/auxetic binary architecture. The sensitivity of the obtained sensor was greatly improved by 22-fold as compared to the traditional counterpart with a bare substrate. The remarkably good agreement between the experimental results and finite element analysis predictions confirmed that the superior sensitivity is a synergistic effect of local strain enhancement derived from the topological structure on the foreside and an additional strain concentration and a reduced Poisson’s ratio from the auxetic arrays on the backside. Furthermore, this sensor can withstand an extreme mechanical force (>750 N) because of the shear stiffening characteristic of the auxetic structure. Benefiting from the characteristics of ultrahigh sensitivity (gauge factor ∼1744 at 5%), low detection limit (<0.05%), and long-term durability (>500 loading cycles), this as-prepared sensor shows promise in practical applications of high-performance wearable electronics.