The technology

How it works

Everything coming out of ElastiSense Sensor Technology, is based on Electroactive Polymers, also referred to as EAP. Electroactive polymers are a class of materials that can change size or shape in response to an electrical stimulus. They are being studied for various applications, including artificial muscles, actuators, sensors, and even energy harvesting.

Here’s a brief overview of the technology behind EAPs:

1. Material Composition: Electroactive polymers are typically made of polymers that have been chemically modified to be responsive to electrical stimuli. These polymers often contain polarizable groups that respond to an electric field.

2. Mechanism of Action: The exact mechanism by which EAPs change shape or size in response to an electric field depends on the specific type of EAP. There are several types of EAPs, including:

  • Ionic EAPs: These use ions within the material to create electrochemical reactions that cause deformation.
  • Dielectric EAPs: These rely on the movement of charges within the material in response to an electric field, leading to mechanical deformation.
  • Conductive EAPs: These materials change shape or size due to changes in their electrical conductivity when subjected to an electric field.

3. Activation: EAPs are activated by applying an electric field across the material. Depending on the type of EAP, this electric field may cause ions to migrate within the material, changes in the material’s electrical polarization, or alterations in its conductivity.

Overall, electroactive polymers represent an exciting area of research with the potential to revolutionize various fields by providing lightweight, flexible, durable and energy-efficient sensors.

Sensors based on Electroactive Polymers (EAPs) utilize the ability of these materials to change shape or size in response to an electrical stimulus, making them suitable for a variety of sensing applications. Here’s a description of sensors based on EAP technology:

  1. Pressure Sensors: EAP-based pressure sensors can detect changes in pressure by measuring the deformation of the polymer in response to the applied pressure. When pressure is applied, the EAP material deforms, altering its electrical properties, such as capacitance or resistance. This change can be measured and correlated with the applied pressure.
  2. Strain Sensors: EAPs can also be used as strain sensors to measure mechanical strain or deformation. When subjected to mechanical stress or strain, the EAP material deforms, leading to changes in its electrical properties. By measuring these electrical changes, the amount of strain applied to the sensor can be determined.
  3. Tactile Sensors: Tactile sensors based on EAP technology can detect touch or pressure. These sensors are often used in robotics and human-machine interfaces. When pressure is applied to the sensor, the EAP material deforms, generating an electrical signal proportional to the applied force. This signal can be processed to determine the location, intensity, and duration of the touch or pressure.
  4. Biomedical Sensors: EAP-based sensors have applications in the biomedical field for monitoring physiological parameters such as muscle contractions, heart rate, or breathing patterns. For example, EAP sensors can be integrated into wearable devices to monitor muscle activity or detect irregular heartbeats. The deformation of the EAP material in response to physiological changes can be converted into electrical signals for analysis and monitoring.
  5. Chemical Sensors: EAPs can also be functionalized to detect specific chemicals or gases. When exposed to target molecules, the EAP material undergoes a change in its electrical properties, which can be detected and quantified. This makes EAP-based sensors suitable for applications such as environmental monitoring, gas detection, and chemical analysis.

A simple illustration of EAP Sensor technology including relevant equation:

EAP Illustration

At ElastiSense Sensor Technology, we specialize in the development of sensors based on EAP technology, including DS sensors, stretch sensors, and strain gauges. Here’s a description of our sensor technology behind each of these:

DS SENSORS:

  • Principle: DS sensors measure the relative displacement or strain between two points on a surface. They work on the principle of capacitive sensing, where changes in capacitance are detected as a result of mechanical deformation.
  • Structure: DS sensors typically consist of two conductive layers separated by an elastomeric dielectric material. When subjected to mechanical strain or deformation, the distance between the conductive layers changes, altering the capacitance of the sensor.
  • Measurement: The change in capacitance is measured using electronic circuitry, and this change is directly proportional to the strain applied to the sensor. DS sensors can provide highly accurate and sensitive measurements of strain or displacement.
DS50

STRETCH SENSORS:

  • Principle: Stretch sensors are designed to measure the elongation or deformation of a material when subjected to tension or stretching forces. ElastiSense’s stretch sensors utilize the piezoresistive effect, where changes in electrical resistance occur in response to mechanical strain.
  • Structure: Stretch sensors typically consist of an elastomeric material embedded with conductive particles or fibers. As the material stretches, the spacing between the conductive elements changes, leading to changes in electrical resistance.
  • Measurement: The change in resistance is measured using electronic circuitry, and this change is proportional to the amount of stretching experienced by the sensor. Stretch sensors can be highly flexible and adaptable for various applications, including wearable technology, medical devices, and robotic systems.
Stretch sensor

STRAIN GAUGES:

  • Principle: Strain gauges are designed to measure the deformation or strain experienced by a material due to mechanical loads. They operate on the principle of electrical resistance strain sensing.
  • Structure: ElastiSense’s strain gauges consist of a thin, flexible substrate (such as polymer or metal foil) with a patterned conductive element (usually a metal wire or thin film) attached to it. When the substrate is subjected to strain, the dimensions of the conductive element change, leading to changes in electrical resistance.
  • Measurement: The change in resistance is measured using a Wheatstone bridge circuit, where the output voltage is proportional to the applied strain. Strain gauges are widely used in structural monitoring, materials testing, and industrial applications for precise measurement of mechanical strain.
Strain Gauge

Overall, ElastiSense Sensor Technology’s sensors leverage the unique properties of elastomeric materials and advanced sensing techniques to provide accurate, reliable, durable, and versatile solutions for measuring strain, displacement, and deformation in various applications.

If you wish to know more, or have a project/product/application where you believe this technology can add value, feel free to contact us directly.

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