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Design and characterization of polymeric strain gauges for biomedical applications Almarghalani, Maan


The market need for organic materials to be used in sensor design has increased with the growing interest in organic printed electronics. Therefore, it is important to find and investigate the piezoelectric and piezoresistive properties of organic materials through the use of alternative rapid fabrication techniques. Poly(3,4- ethylenedioxythiophene) poly(styrenesulfonate), commonly known as PEDOT:PSS, a conductive polymer widely used in organic electronics, can be possibly used as piezoresistive element to measure the strain on flexible substrate electronics. Using PEDOT:PSS and other metallic inks such as silver, the goal of this work is use alternative microfabrication technologies to deposit PEDOT:PSS on flexible substrates and then to use these methods to design strain gauges. The targeted biomedical applications of the designed strain gauges vary from rehabilitation devices to smart biomedical monitoring systems. In this work, PEDOT:PSS strain gauges are initially designed using aerosol jet deposition on a flexible polyamide substrate. The technology has proved to be very powerful in depositing lines with thickness less than 1um. In order to reduce the initial resistance of the strain gauges, it is desirable to increase the thickness of the structure. For this reason, laser micromachining etching is used to fabricate PEDOT:PSS strain gauges. The designed structures have been tested mechanically and electrically in order to measure their gauge factors to longitudinal and transversal mechanical strains. The resultant longitudinal gauge factor varied in the range of -1 and 2, while little change in the resistance was noticed for transversal characterization. Using the same fabrication method, silver paint strain gauges are designed and characterized to have a high longitudinal gauge factor approximated to be higher than 10. The silver paint gauge factor barely responded to transversal actuation. While the variability of the PEDOT:PSS strain gauges results seemed to be an issue, the reproducibility of silver ink strain gauges proved the viability of the technological fabrication process presented in this work.

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