Development of a skin-like tactile sensor array for curved surface

Haopeng Wang, Debao Zhou, Jianguo Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


In this paper, we develop a skin-like tactile sensor array to measure the contact pressure of curved surfaces. The sensor array is laminated into a thin film 3 mm in thickness and can easily be wrapped around a pencil without damaging its skin-like structure. So far, we have achieved the array containing 8 × 16 sensor elements. Its spatial resolution is 1 element per 9 mm 2 area and it can measure the pressure up to 360 kPa. The sensor-array patch contains three layers. The upper and lower layers are polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) thin films embedded with the conductor strips formed by PDMS-based silver nanowires (AgNWs) networks. The middle layer is formed by the mixing of nickel powder with liquid PDMS for contact force measurement. Experimental tests have demonstrated that conductor strips on the upper layer can maintain their resistances ~23 Ω with <4 Ω increase when the tensile strain is up to 50%. Noted is the conductor made with carbon nanotubes can keep its conductivity unchanged for up to only 40% tensile strain. Through fatigue tests, it is observed that the measured AgNWs/PDMS conductor strip exhibits low and stable resistances. This is one of the most desired behaviors of the stretchable interconnects for signal transmission. The integrated sensor system can successfully measure the contact pressure induced by objects of different shapes. It can be applied on curved or non-planar surfaces in robots or medical devices for force detection and feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6584718
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Conductive elastomer
  • Curved surface
  • PDMS
  • Silver nanowires interconnects
  • Tactile sensor array


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