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Supramolecular Self-Healing Sensor Fiber Composites for Damage Detection in Piezoresistive Electronic Skin for Soft Robots
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Self-healing materials can prolong the lifetime of structures and products by enabling the repairing of damage. However, detecting the damage and the progress of the healing process remains an important issue. In this study, self-healing, piezoresistive strain sensor fibers (ShSFs) are used for detecting strain deformation and damage in a self-healing elastomeric matrix. The ShSFs were embedded in the self-healing matrix for the development of self-healing sensor fiber composites (ShSFC) with elongation at break values of up to 100%. A quadruple hydrogen-bonded supramolecular elastomer was used as a matrix material. The ShSFCs exhibited a reproducible and monotonic response. The ShSFCs were investigated for use as sensorized electronic skin on 3D-printed soft robotic modules, such as bending actuators. Depending on the bending actuator module, the electronic skin was loaded under either compression (pneumatic-based module) or tension (tendon-based module). In both configurations, the ShSFs could be successfully used as deformation sensors, and in addition, detect the presence of damage based on the sensor signal drift. The sensor under tension showed better recovery of the signal after healing, and smaller signal relaxation. Even with the complete severing of the fiber, the piezoresistive properties returned after the healing, but in that case, thermal heat treatment was required. With their resilient response and self-healing properties, the supramolecular fiber composites can be used for the next generation of soft robotic modules.
Number of pages: 19