A soft compressive sensor using dielectric elastomers

Hongying Zhang, Michael Yu Wang, Jisen Li, Jian Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes a methodology to design, analyze and fabricate a soft compressive sensor, made of dielectric elastomers that are able to recover from large strain. Each module of the compressive sensor is modeled as a capacitor, comprising a DE membrane sandwiched between two compliant electrodes. When the sensor modules aligned in an array were subject to a compressive load, the induced deformation on the corresponding module resulted in capacitance increase. By detecting the capacitance signal, not only the position but also the magnitude of the compressive load were obtained. We built an analytical model to simulate the mechanical-electrical responses of two common soft sensor structures, namely with and without an embedded air chamber. The simulation results showed that the air embedded prototype improved the sensitivity of the sensor significantly, which was consistent with the experimental results, where the sensitivity is enhanced from 0.05 N-1 to 0.91 N-1. Furthermore, the effect of the air chamber dimension on the sensitivity is also discussed theoretically and experimentally. It concluded that the detection range increased with the air chamber height over length ratio.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035045
Number of pages8
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • analytical model
  • dielectric elastomer
  • sensitivity
  • soft compressive sensor

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