A strain sensor has been fabricated from a polymer nanocomposite with multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWNT) fillers. The piezoresistivity of this nanocomposite strain sensor has been investigated based on an improved three-dimensional (3D) statistical resistor network model incorporating the tunneling effect between the neighboring carbon nanotubes (CNTs), and a fiber reorientation model. The numerical results agree very well with the experimental measurements. As compared with traditional strain gauges, much higher sensitivity can be obtained in the nanocomposite sensors when the volume fraction of CNT is close to the percolation threshold. For a small CNT volume fraction, weak nonlinear piezoresistivity is observed both experimentally and from numerical simulation. The tunneling effect is considered to be the principal mechanism of the sensor under small strains.
ASJC Scopus subject areas