Cracked titanium film on an elastomeric substrate for highly flexible, transparent, and low-power strain sensors
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Nanoscale Research Letters 2013, 8:441 doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-441Published: 24 October 2013
Strain-dependent cracking behaviors in thin titanium (Ti) films on polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) substrates were systematically investigated for their application to sensitive, flexible, transparent, and portable strain sensors. When uniaxially elongated, vertical cracks were developed in the low-strain range, and beyond a critical strain, tilted cracks appeared to intersect the vertical cracks. The cracking behaviors were also dependent on Ti film thickness. The varying strain-dependent crack patterns produced a significant resistance change in response to the applied strain, particularly, in the high- and broad-strain range. For a 180-nm-thick Ti film on PDMS substrate, a gauge factor of 2 was achieved in the range of 30% to 50% strain. The operation power was extremely low. All the Ti films on PDMS substrates were transparent, highly flexible, and very easy to fabricate. These results suggest that cracked Ti films on PDMS substrates could be a viable candidate for realizing a low-cost, flexible, transparent, and portable strain sensor.