The researchers at Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology demonstrate these tunable strain gauges. They vary the surface coverage of the nanowire network and the waviness of the nanowires in the network. As a result, the gauge factor (i.e. sensitivity) and range of measured strain can be engineered, based on the demands of the application.

Stretchable and conformable

Strain gauges based on thin films of silver nanowires printed on an elastomer are fabricated. They have the added advantage of being stretchable and conformable which is essential for wearable applications. The team demonstrates a few wearable applications using the stretchable strain gauge. The strain gauge can be adhered to the human neck to detect movements of the throat or can be integrated with a glove to detect the bending of the forefinger.

Controllability

The fundamental operation of the proposed strain gauge is examined. The methods to control the gauge factor and measured strain range are discussed and addressed. Similar tunable properties are expected to be demonstrated in other classes of two-dimensional percolative networks of one-dimensional materials.

More information can be found in the journal Nanotechnology 26 195504.

Further reading

An anisotropic self-powered directional sensor (Feb 2015)
Decoupling the piezotronic effect from the piezoresistive (Aug 2014)
ZnO nanowire nanogenerators inspire self-powered active gas sensor (July 2013)