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Nanomaterials are small structures that have at least one dimension less than ~100 nanometers. Depending on the number of dimensions that are not confined to the nanoscale range, nanomaterials can be classified into 0D, 1D and 2D types. Due to their small sizes, nanoparticles possess exceptional physical and chemical properties which opens a unique possibility for the next generation of strain sensors that are cheap, multifunctional, high sensitivity and reliability. Over the years, thanks to the development of new nanomaterials and the printing technologies, a number of printing techniques have been developed to fabricate a wide range of electronic devices on diverse substrates. Nanomaterials based thin film devices can be readily patterned and fabricated in a variety of ways, including printing, spraying and laser direct writing. In this work, we review the piezoresistivity of nanomaterials of different categories and study various printing approaches to utilize their excellent properties in the fabrication of scalable and printable thin film strain gauges. CNT-AgNP composite thin films were fabricated using a solution based screen printing process. By controlling the concentration ratio of CNTs to AgNPs in the nanocomposites and the supporting substrates, we were able to engineer the crack formation to achieve stable and high sensitivity sensors. The crack formation in the composite films lead to piezoresistive sensors with high GFs up to 221.2. Also, with a simple, low cost, and easy to scale up fabrication process they may find use as an alternative to traditional strain sensors. By using computer controlled spray coating system, we can achieve uniform and high quality CNTs thin films for the fabrication of strain sensors and transparent / flexible electrodes. A simple diazonium salt treatment of the pristine SWCNT thin film has been identified to be efficient in greatly enhancing the piezoresistive sensitivity of SWCNT thin film based piezoresistive sensors. The coupled mechanical stretching and Raman band shift characterization provides strong evidence to support this point of view. The same approach should be applicable to other types of carbon based strain sensors for improving their sensitivity. The direct laser writing (DLW) method has been used for producing flexible piezoresistive sensor and sensor arrays on polyimide film substrates. The effect of CO2 laser irradiation conditions on the morphology, chemical composition and piezoresistivity of the formed graphitic line features were systematically studied to establish the related processing-structure-property relationship. The DLW generated sensors have been demonstrated for their use as strain gauges for structural health monitoring of polymeric composites, and as flexible and wearable sensors of gesture recognition for human-machine interactions. The versatility of the DLW technique demonstrated in this work can be highly valuable in different industrial sectors for developing customized flexible electronics.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Zhibin Yu, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Tao (Ted) Liu, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Jim P. Zheng, University Representative; Changchun (Chad) Zeng, Committee Member; Mei Zhang, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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