Facile Fabrication of Ultrasensitive and Durable Thin-Film Graphite-Polymer Strain Sensor for Fine Motion Detection in Human Health, Musical Instrument Learning, and Sport Training

Physical Sciences : Materials and Compounds

Available for licensing

Inventors

  • Donglei Fan , Mechanical Engineering
  • Weigu Li , Mechanical Engineering
  • Jianhe Guo , Mechanical Engineering

Background/unmet need

In the last decade, flexible thin-film strain sensing devices have drawn growing attention due to their portability, foldability, and low manufacturing cost for various applications such as vital signal monitoring, electronic skin, implantable devices, and smart clothing by detecting fine motions.

Graphene flexible thin-film strain sensors (Graphene-FTSS) have received particular interest owing to the unique properties of graphene sheets such as their high conductivity and mechanical strengths. The Graphene-FTSS devices are based on elastomers integrated with conductive interconnected graphene networks, graphene woven fabrics, graphene ribbon, or crumpled graphene. Graphene-based pressure-sensitive sensors, such as graphene-polyurethane sponge and microstructured graphene arrays, also generate great interest. Nevertheless, none of the aforementioned graphene-based strain sensors exhibit ultrahigh sensitivity for detection of fine features in the motions or offer dual high sensitivity for both in-plane and vertical motions.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a low-cost and facile method for the synthesis of conductive interconnected thin-graphite networks. These are then embedded in elastomeric polymers for flexible, ultra-sensitive, and durable strain sensors. These high-performance strain sensors have been applied in human vital sign monitoring, such as respiratory rate, phonation, and pulse rate, which show much more detailed signal features with high signal-to-noise ratios compared to previous work. They also can detect position which can be used in posture correction for a variety of applications such as proper musical instrument positioning and posture adjustments for sports applications including golf and running.

Benefits/Advantages

  • Higher performance and reduced fabrication costs compared to transistor-based sensors
  • Ultrahigh dual sensitivity for vertical pressure as well as in-plane stretching
  • Variety of applications

Features

  • Ultra-sensitive and reliable graphite-based strain sensors
  • Simultaneous pressure and stretch sensitivity
  • Reduced complexity and difficulty of fabrication process

Market potential/applications

Health care, musical instrument education, athletic training, and robotics

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

  • 1 PCT patent application filed