Stretching sensors may enable novel wearable electronics

May 15, 2011

Dielectric elastomer sensors can be customized and applied in a variety of ways. (Credit: Fraunhofer ISC)

A new stretching sensor that measures both pressure and stretch has been developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg.

Made of  an elastomer material coated on both sides with flexible electrodes, the sensor is able to stretch to twice its area before tearing.

“The sensors could be used to design [a] smart safety system [for airbags] that can sense the position of automobile passengers, or to measure the pressure of gases in industrial settings,” says Dr. Holger Böse, Scientific and Technical Manager of the ISC’s Center Smart Materials.

The sensors are small and flexible, so they could be embedded in clothing to create wearable sensors. The researchers hope to bring the sensors to market in a few years.