Microstructured single-layer electrodes embedded in P(VDF-TrFE) for flexible and self-powered direction-sensitive strain sensors

Publication from Materials
Hybridelektronik und Strukturierung

P. Schäffner, M. Zirkl, G. Schider, J. Groten , M. R. Belegratis, P. Knoll and B. Stadlober

Smart Materials and Structures 29, 085040 (2020), IF 3,71, 7/2018


Most flexible piezoelectric transducers have a vertical setup with top and bottom electrodes, which does not enable the selective, directional detection of mechanical stimuli. Here we present a paradigm shift in the design of such transducers by placing the electrodes in a single layer and fully embedding them in a ferroelectric layer. This approach enables a selective detection of in-plane strains with a linear, orientation-dependent response. Our transducers feature microstructured, densely interdigitated electrodes embedded in the ferroelectric copolymer P(VDF-TrFE) and show an in-plane strain sensitivity of up to 8.3 nC %−1 (21.3 V %−1), while being 23 times less sensitive to transversal loading, compared to vertical setup devices. The embedded electrodes cause a strong anisotropy for in-plane strain coupling and make it possible to distinguish both the bending orientation and the bending intensity on a time-variable curvilinear surface. A high power density of 2.3 mW cm−3 was achieved during a periodic bending movement at 90 Hz. In addition to a photolithography and electroplating-assisted method, we present an alignment-free, elegant microcapillary force-based process for scalable fabrication of embedded electrodes. The presented transducers have a high potential for application as energy-autonomous sensors for condition monitoring, robotics and wearables.