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Sensors 2015, 15(7), 17728-17747; doi:10.3390/s150717728

Processing and Characterization of a Novel Distributed Strain Sensor Using Carbon Nanotube-Based Nonwoven Composites

1,3
,
2,3,†
and
1,3,†,*
1
Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
2
Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
3
Center for Composite Materials, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Bernhard Tittmann
Received: 2 June 2015 / Revised: 2 June 2015 / Accepted: 16 July 2015 / Published: 21 July 2015
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Abstract

This paper describes the development of an innovative carbon nanotube-based non-woven composite sensor that can be tailored for strain sensing properties and potentially offers a reliable and cost-effective sensing option for structural health monitoring (SHM). This novel strain sensor is fabricated using a readily scalable process of coating Carbon nanotubes (CNT) onto a nonwoven carrier fabric to form an electrically-isotropic conductive network. Epoxy is then infused into the CNT-modified fabric to form a free-standing nanocomposite strain sensor. By measuring the changes in the electrical properties of the sensing composite the deformation can be measured in real-time. The sensors are repeatable and linear up to 0.4% strain. Highest elastic strain gage factors of 1.9 and 4.0 have been achieved in the longitudinal and transverse direction, respectively. Although the longitudinal gage factor of the newly formed nanocomposite sensor is close to some metallic foil strain gages, the proposed sensing methodology offers spatial coverage, manufacturing customizability, distributed sensing capability as well as transverse sensitivity. View Full-Text
Keywords: Carbon nanotubes; distributed sensing; structural health monitoring; nanocomposites; strain sensors; longitudinal and transverse sensitivity; civil infrastructure Carbon nanotubes; distributed sensing; structural health monitoring; nanocomposites; strain sensors; longitudinal and transverse sensitivity; civil infrastructure
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Dai, H.; Thostenson, E.T.; Schumacher, T. Processing and Characterization of a Novel Distributed Strain Sensor Using Carbon Nanotube-Based Nonwoven Composites. Sensors 2015, 15, 17728-17747.

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