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Open AccessArticle

Effect of the Elastomer Matrix on Thermoplastic Elastomer-Based Strain Sensor Fiber Composites

1
Department of Functional Materials, Empa—Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 129, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
2
Department of Mechanical Engineering (MECH), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), and Flanders Make Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
3
Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, 49076 Osnabrück, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2020, 20(8), 2399; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20082399
Received: 13 March 2020 / Revised: 17 April 2020 / Accepted: 20 April 2020 / Published: 23 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Sensor Materials)
In this study, a thermoplastic elastomer sensor fiber was embedded in an elastomer matrix. The effect of the matrix material on the sensor properties and the piezoresistive behavior of the single fiber-matrix composite system was investigated. For all composites, cycling test (dynamic test) and the relaxation behavior at different strains (quasi-static test) were investigated. In all cases, dynamic properties and quasi-static significantly changed after embedding, compared to the pure fiber. The composite with the silicone elastomer PDMS (Polydimethylsiloxane) as matrix material exhibited deviation from linear response of the resistivity at low strains and proved an unsuitable choice compared to natural rubber. The addition of a spring construct in the embedded sensor fiber natural rubber composite improved the linearity at low strains but increased the mechanical and electrical hysteresis of the soft matter sensor composite. Using pre-vulcanized natural rubber improved linearity at low strains and reduced significantly the stress and relative resistance relaxation as well as the resistance hysteresis, especially if the resistance remained low. In both cases of the pre-vulcanized rubber and the spring structure, the piezoresistive behavior was improved, and at the same time, the stiffness of the system was increased indicating that using a stiffer matrix can be a strategy for improving the sensor properties. View Full-Text
Keywords: fiber composites; piezoresistive response; strain sensor; electro-mechanical testing fiber composites; piezoresistive response; strain sensor; electro-mechanical testing
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Georgopoulou, A.; Kummerlöwe, C.; Clemens, F. Effect of the Elastomer Matrix on Thermoplastic Elastomer-Based Strain Sensor Fiber Composites. Sensors 2020, 20, 2399.

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