Conductive Elastomer Pressure Transducers

Conductive elastomer or polymer pressure sensors are polymers with conductive or semiconductive particles suspended in a polymer substrate. Application of pressure to the polymer increases its conductivity. A commercially available conductive polymer sensor manufactured by Interlink Electronics is shown in Figure 21. The design is based on a top layer of conductive polymer pressing down on two silver electrodes. The application of an external pressure on the polymer increases the measured conductance between the two electrodes patterns.

Figure 21 Interlink Electronics Pressure Sensor [5]

 

Another polymer based sensor has been developed by Tekscan Sensor Technology. It consists of a grid based sensor that utilizes proprietary conductive and semi-conductive inks. The ink consists of conductive particles suspended in polymer substrate. Conductive properties of the ink are affected by an externally applied pressure. Individual sensing cells as small as .6 mm2 can be arrayed over an area in a flexible configuration. Arrays of 62 sensing cells/cm2 have been manufactured. Sensors are typically printed on .1 mm thick polymer films. By electronically scanning and measuring the change in resistance of individual cells the pressure distribution in time and space can be determined. Tekscan tactile sensor technology has been applied to various biomedical applications including gait analysis, dental occlusion and wheel chair seating analysis. (Figure 22)

Figure 22 Tekscan Sensor

 

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Support for the development of this module was provided by the National Science Foundation and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
 

Please send questions or comments to Professor Ron Adrezin or Professor Daniel Raichel.