The investigation and development of polymer matrix composite materials for tactile sensing applications

  • Sara Sarrar

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Tactile sensors are devices that are able to sense physical properties through direct contact. Materials in tactile sensors need to be flexible and conductive to allow the deformation over 3D complex surfaces and to allow the flow of electric current. In this research, newly developed, single-layered sheet composites based on Ethylene Vinyl Acetate / Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotube (EVA/MWCNT) of varied MWCNT loadings (1 wt%, 3 wt.% and 5 wt%) have been investigated for the first time as a material for Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) tactile sensor application and for large area sensors. Furthermore, two commerically available fabaric-based composites; SXP130 and SXP130B were selected as benchmark materials with which to compare the developed EVA/MWCNT composites. This work presents one of the significant studies being conducted in which sheet- and fabric- based composites have been concurrently compared to study their composition, thermal properties, and morphology. Moreover, composites' mechanical and electrical properties have been studied to evaluate them as membranes for use as tactile sensors. Based on the performance evaluation, it was found that the developed EVA/MWCNT composites showed more than 142% improvement in the elastic modulus property compared to fabric-based composites. MWCNT incorporation have improved the EVA/MWCNT stiffness without losing their stretchability as they were able to elongate more than 100% of their original state. Moreover, material stability and durability are important characteristics' in tactile sensors. Upon the stretching and releasing of 1000 straining cycles, the newly developed EVA/MWCNT showed higher mechanical strength in comparison to fabric-based composite. These findings show that the developed EVA/MWCNT composites demonstrate a higher resistance to permanent deformation which would allow withstanding higher stresses/forces as a membrane for tactile sensors in comparison to fabric-based composites.
Date of AwardDec 2020
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorSulafudin Slavko Vukusic (Supervisor)


  • Tactile sensors
  • EIT
  • polymer matrix composite
  • EVA
  • conductive fillers

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