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Investigating Branched Polyethylene Sensors for Applications in Prosthetics

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journal contribution
posted on 25.11.2021, 15:47 by Jamie OD Williams, Gregory A Solan, Jinting Xu, Jack Allen, Rob C Harris, Vanessa M Timmermann
There is a need for new conductive, scalable sensors with piezoresistive and thermoresistive properties for applications in bioengineering. For example, the demand for real-time sensory feedback in upper-limb prosthetics requires sensors that are low-cost, scalable, and sensitive to temperature, pressure, and movement. It is possible to manufacture low-cost conductive sensors by directly mixing a low-cost filler such as graphite into fillers such as polyorganosiloxane, although they can have poor electrical and mechanical homogeneity. In this paper, an alternative approach is outlined to form these sensors: ethylene was polymerized using a nickel catalyst to form a polymer with up to 93 branches per 1000 carbon atoms. This branched polyethylene was fibrous and had a greater volume than high-density polyethylene. After hot pressing with a graphite filler to form a conductive, flexible sensor, the polyethylene samples had electrical resistivity down to (Formula presented.) 0.067 (Formula presented.) m, a thermal coefficient of resistance (Formula presented.) −7.5 (Formula presented.) at 27 (Formula presented.), and a electrical resistance sensitive to forces down to 0.1 N. The process is scalable, and provides a route to homogeneous, low-cost sensors for future prosthetics applications.

Funding

Wellcome Trust. Grant Number: 204801/Z/16/Z

History

Citation

Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics, 222 (21), 2021. https://doi.org/10.1002/macp.202100206

Author affiliation

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics

Volume

222

Issue

21

Publisher

Wiley

issn

1022-1352

eissn

1521-3935

Acceptance date

14/06/2021

Copyright date

2021

Available date

25/11/2021

Language

English