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Nanotechnology. 2012 Mar 2;23(8):085502. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/23/8/085502. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Direct-write fabrication of freestanding nanocomposite strain sensors.

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  • 1Laboratory for Multiscale Mechanics, Center for Applied Research on Polymers, École Polytechnique de Montreal, succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal, QC, Canada.


This paper deals with the design and microfabrication of two three-dimensional (3D) freestanding patterned strain sensors made of single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) nanocomposites with the ultraviolet-assisted direct-write (UV-DW) technique. The first sensor consisted of three nanocomposite microfibers suspended between two rectangular epoxy pads. The flexibility of the UV-DW technique enables the sensor and its housing to be manufactured in one monolithic structure. The second sensor was composed of a nanocomposite network consisting of four parallel microsprings, which demonstrates the high capability of the technique when compared to conventional photolithographic technologies. The performances of the sensors were assessed under tension and compression, respectively. The sensors' sensitivities were evaluated by correlating their measured resistivities to the applied displacements/strains. Electrical conductivity measurements revealed that the manufactured sensors are highly sensitive to small mechanical disturbances, especially for lower nanotube loadings when compared to traditional metallic or nanocomposite films. The present manufacturing method offers a new perspective for manufacturing highly sensitive 3D freestanding microstructured sensors.

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