Tactile-Sensing Based on Flexible PVDF Nanofibers via Electrospinning: A Review

Xiaomei Wang, Fazhe Sun, Guangchao Yin, Yuting Wang, Bo Liu, Mingdong Dong
2018 Sensors  
The flexible tactile sensor has attracted widespread attention because of its great flexibility, high sensitivity, and large workable range. It can be integrated into clothing, electronic skin, or mounted on to human skin. Various nanostructured materials and nanocomposites with high flexibility and electrical performance have been widely utilized as functional materials in flexible tactile sensors. Polymer nanomaterials, representing the most promising materials, especially polyvinylidene
more » ... ide (PVDF), PVDF co-polymer and their nanocomposites with ultra-sensitivity, high deformability, outstanding chemical resistance, high thermal stability and low permittivity, can meet the flexibility requirements for dynamic tactile sensing in wearable electronics. Electrospinning has been recognized as an excellent straightforward and versatile technique for preparing nanofiber materials. This review will present a brief overview of the recent advances in PVDF nanofibers by electrospinning for flexible tactile sensor applications. PVDF, PVDF co-polymers and their nanocomposites have been successfully formed as ultrafine nanofibers, even as randomly oriented PVDF nanofibers by electrospinning. These nanofibers used as the functional layers in flexible tactile sensors have been reviewed briefly in this paper. The β-phase content, which is the strongest polar moment contributing to piezoelectric properties among all the crystalline phases of PVDF, can be improved by adjusting the technical parameters in electrospun PVDF process. The piezoelectric properties and the sensibility for the pressure sensor are improved greatly when the PVDF fibers become more oriented. The tactile performance of PVDF composite nanofibers can be further promoted by doping with nanofillers and nanoclay. Electrospun P(VDF-TrFE) nanofiber mats used for the 3D pressure sensor achieved excellent sensitivity, even at 0.1 Pa. The most significant enhancement is that the aligned electrospun core-shell P(VDF-TrFE) nanofibers exhibited almost 40 times higher sensitivity than that of pressure sensor based on thin-film PVDF. Sensors 2018, 18, 330 2 of 16 such as piezoelectric, piezoresistive, triboelectric, capacitive, and optical sensors according to the sensing mechanism employed. A good tactile sensor should be highly sensitive, stable, simple, and quickly responsive [5] . However, due to the limitation of the mechanical properties (including stretching, bending, pressure and torsion) [6, 7] , the development of the traditional piezoelectric sensors were greatly hindered [8] [9] [10] . The piezoelectric sensors can be classified into two groups: ceramic and polymeric ones. There are some disadvantages for piezoelectric ceramic based on inorganic materials such as high temperature for polar reorientation, high cost preparation process, and poor flexibility. Piezoelectric polymeric materials, on the other hand, have excellent mechanical flexibility, multi-technology compatibility, and cheaper cost. The most prominent advantage is that it has good nanomaterial formability. Therefore, the use of piezoelectric polymeric materials in the tactile sensor has been developing rapidly. Meanwhile, various nanostructured materials (nanofibers/nanowires, graphene and carbon nanotubes, polymer nanofibers, etc.) [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] and nanocomposites [19] [20] [21] [22] with high flexibility and electrical performance have been widely utilized as functional materials and the rigid substrates have been replaced by flexible substrates including polyethylene terephthalate, polyurethane, and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), which has promoted the development of flexible tactile sensors. Rapid development has been achieved in recent years to fabricate flexible tactile sensors, due to the ultrahigh stretchable, bending, and wearable features, which can be easily integrated into artificial and electronic skin (e-skin) [23] [24] [25] [26] . Polymer nanomaterials, especially polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), PVDF co-polymers and their nanocomposites with ultra-sensitivity and high deformability, represent the most promising material, which can meet the hot spot of flexibility and the requirements of dynamic tactile sensing in wearable electronics [27] [28] [29] . Various fabrication methods of nanomaterials such as sol-gel [30], chemical vapor deposition (CVD) [2,6], hydrothermal method [31], etc., are adopted, but are generally limited by complicated processes, high-temperature treatment, high-vacuum system or high cost. Electrospinning is a typical one-step process, low-cost, and versatile technique to fabricate nanofibers from solution at room temperature, which has been widely utilized to fabricate one-dimensional polymer nanofibers [32] . The crystallinity of a polymer nanofiber can be significantly improved due to the ultra-high specific surface area and aspect ratio and therefore the electrical performance can be further enhanced [28] by electrospinning. The nanofiber materials of PVDF, PVDF co-polymers and their nanocomposites, even randomly oriented PVDF nanofibers, have been successfully fabricated [33] and used for the functional layer of flexible tactile sensors with excellent performance. This review will present a brief overview of the recent advances in PVDF nanofibers by electrospinning for flexible tactile sensor applications. As the functional materials of the tactile sensors, PVDF nanofibers by electrospinning are mainly used for piezoelectric sensors and piezoresistive sensor. Most PVDF nanofiber-based tactile sensors have a common mechanism working by piezoelectricity. The β-phase content contributing to piezoelectric properties can be improved by adjusting the technical parameters during the electrospun PVDF process. The tactile performance of the PVDF composite nanofibers doped with nanofillers and nanoclay used in sensors can be further promoted. Electrospun P(VDF-TrFE) nanofiber mats achieved excellent sensitivity at exceptionally low pressure (0.1 Pa) [34] . In addition, the excellent sensitivity can even be applied to 3D pressure sensor [35] . The piezoelectric properties are greatly improved when the arrangement of PVDF fibers become more oriented. The most significant enhancement is that the aligned electrospun P(VDF-TrFE) core-shell nanofibers were fabricated and exhibited almost 40 times higher sensitivity than that of a pressure sensor based on thin-film PVDF. Both PVDF nanocomposite (such as PVDF/Ag and PVDF/PPy) and P(VDF-TrFE) nanofibers by electrospinning show excellent pressure-sensor performance while working by the mechanism of piezoresistivity. Electrospinning Electrospinning is a simple, low-cost, and versatile technique to fabricate long and continuous micro/nanoscale fibers (from a few nanometers to submicrometers) [36, 37] . The invention of
doi:10.3390/s18020330 pmid:29364175 pmcid:PMC5855507 fatcat:fpazug3ksjb5fjpeh6xfk4wvqi