Sami El Arja, Titus Jayarathna, Ganesh R. Naik, Paul Breen, Gaetano Gargiulo
Sensors, Volume 20, Issue 1, Pages 90, Publisher MDPI, Journal Ranking Q1, Impact Factor 3.9
Publication year: 2020

Abstract

Stretchable conductive materials are originally conceived as radio frequency (RF) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding materials, and, under stretch, they generally function as distributed strain-gauges. These commercially available conductive elastomers have found their space in low power health monitoring systems, for example, to monitor respiratory and cardiac functions. Conductive elastomers do not behave linearly due to material constraints; hence, when used as a sensor, a full characterisation to identify ideal operating ranges are required. In this paper, we studied how the continuous stretch cycles affected the material electrical and physical properties in different embodiment impressed by bodily volume change. We simulated the stretch associated with breathing using a bespoke stress rig to ensure reproducibility of results. The stretch rig is capable of providing constant sinusoidal waves in the physiological ranges of extension and frequency. The material performances is evaluated assessing the total harmonic distortion (THD), signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), correlation coefficient, peak to peak (P-P) amplitude, accuracy, repeatability, hysteresis, delay, and washability. The results showed that, among the three controlled variables, stretch length, stretch frequency and fabric width, the most significant factor to the signal quality is the stretch length. The ideal working region is within 2% of the original length. The material cut in strips of >3 mm show more reliable to handle a variety of stretch parameter without losing its internal characteristics and electrical properties.