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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaporation cast thin film carbon nanotube strain gauges Au, Daniel Tak Yin


This work describes the research performed on synthesising and measuring the gauge factor of evaporation cast thin film carbon nanotube strain gauges. The main characteristics pursued of the strain gauges are inexpensive, easily manufactured and reasonably sensitive. Carbon nanotubes have exhibited a high gauge factor due to their intrinsic piezoresistivity and were incorporated into evaporation cast films to try to take advantage of the high sensitivity. Another direction taken to improve the sensitivity is alignment of carbon nanotubes in the thin film. Previous work produced an evaporation cast carbon nanotube strain gauge with a relatively high gauge factor. However, it was not reproducible and the research encompassed extends from the previous work. A number of ink compositions with different carbon nanotube and surfactant loadings were used to synthesise thin films of carbon nanotubes on a polyimide substrate. Variations of evaporation casting were used to decrease the evaporation rate in attempts of carbon nanotube alignment through a self-organising liquid crystal phase during evaporation. Other methods of inkjet printing and air flow evaporation casting were also attempted to achieve alignment. Electrical connections using a conductive polymer and metal wires were fabricated onto the samples for electrical measurements. A four-point probe resistance measurement under the application of strain was used to elicit the gauge factors. The strain gauge design was modified from previous work for more reliable electrical connections and for higher applied strains. A procedure for electrical measurements coupled with the application of strain was devised and the gauge factors achieved varied between 0.1 and 4.0 with a median of 1.1 ±0.1. The median gauge factor was reproducible and exhibited by several samples fabricated with different types of evaporation casting. The decrease in evaporation rate did not result in either alignment or relatively high gauge factors. In general, alignment was not achieved with the other methods of air flow evaporation and inkjet printing.

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