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Nanotechnology. 2016 Mar 4;27(9):095401. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/27/9/095401. Epub 2016 Jan 29.

Highly flexible self-powered sensors based on printed circuit board technology for human motion detection and gesture recognition.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Central University, No.300, Jhongda Rd., Jhongli District, Taoyuan City 32001, Taiwan (Republic of China.


In this paper, we demonstrate a new integration of printed circuit board (PCB) technology-based self-powered sensors (PSSs) and direct-write, near-field electrospinning (NFES) with polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) micro/nano fibers (MNFs) as source materials. Integration with PCB technology is highly desirable for affordable mass production. In addition, we systematically investigate the effects of electrodes with intervals in the range of 0.15 mm to 0.40 mm on the resultant PSS output voltage and current. The results show that at a strain of 0.5% and 5 Hz, a PSS with a gap interval 0.15 mm produces a maximum output voltage of 3 V and a maximum output current of 220 nA. Under the same dimensional constraints, the MNFs are massively connected in series (via accumulation of continuous MNFs across the gaps ) and in parallel (via accumulation of parallel MNFs on the same gap) simultaneously. Finally, encapsulation in a flexible polymer with different interval electrodes demonstrated that electrical superposition can be realized by connecting MNFs collectively and effectively in serial/parallel patterns to achieve a high current and high voltage output, respectively. Further improvement in PSSs based on the effect of cooperativity was experimentally realized by rolling-up the device into a cylindrical shape, resulting in a 130% increase in power output due to the cooperative effect. We assembled the piezoelectric MNF sensors on gloves, bandages and stockings to fabricate devices that can detect different types of human motion, including finger motion and various flexing and extensions of an ankle. The firmly glued PSSs were tested on the glove and ankle respectively to detect and harvest the various movements and the output voltage was recorded as ∼1.5 V under jumping movement (one PSS) and ∼4.5 V for the clenched fist with five fingers bent concurrently (five PSSs). This research shows that piezoelectric MNFs not only have a huge impact on harvesting various external sources from mechanical energy but also can distinguish different motions as a self-powered active deformation sensor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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