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Sensors 2007, 7(4), 473-492; doi:10.3390/s7040473

Design and Development of a Flexible Strain Sensor for Textile Structures Based on a Conductive Polymer Composite

Laboratoire de Génie et Matériaux Textiles (GEMTEX), 9 rue de l’Ermitage – BP 30329, 59056 Roubaix Cedex 01, France
IEMN, Cité Scientifique, Avenue Poincaré – BP 60069, 59652 Villeneuve d’Ascq, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 March 2007 / Accepted: 17 April 2007 / Published: 18 April 2007
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligent Sensors)
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The aim of this work is to develop a smart flexible sensor adapted to textile structures, able to measure their strain deformations. The sensors are “smart” because of their capacity to adapt to the specific mechanical properties of textile structures that are lightweight, highly flexible, stretchable, elastic, etc. Because of these properties, textile structures are continuously in movement and easily deformed, even under very low stresses. It is therefore important that the integration of a sensor does not modify their general behavior. The material used for the sensor is based on a thermoplastic elastomer (Evoprene)/carbon black nanoparticle composite, and presents general mechanical properties strongly compatible with the textile substrate. Two preparation techniques are investigated: the conventional melt-mixing process, and the solvent process which is found to be more adapted for this particular application. The preparation procedure is fully described, namely the optimization of the process in terms of filler concentration in which the percolation theory aspects have to be considered. The sensor is then integrated on a thin, lightweight Nylon fabric, and the electromechanical characterization is performed to demonstrate the adaptability and the correct functioning of the sensor as a strain gauge on the fabric. A normalized relative resistance is defined in order to characterize the electrical response of the sensor. Finally, the influence of environmental factors, such as temperature and atmospheric humidity, on the sensor performance is investigated. The results show that the sensor’s electrical resistance is particularly affected by humidity. This behavior is discussed in terms of the sensitivity of the carbon black filler particles to the presence of water. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon black; conductive polymer composite; flexible sensor; textile strain gauge carbon black; conductive polymer composite; flexible sensor; textile strain gauge

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Cochrane, C.; Koncar, V.; Lewandowski, M.; Dufour, C. Design and Development of a Flexible Strain Sensor for Textile Structures Based on a Conductive Polymer Composite. Sensors 2007, 7, 473-492.

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