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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

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Strain sensors are currently limited by an inability to operate over large deformations or to exhibit linear responses to strain. Producing strain sensors meeting these criteria remains a particularly difficult challenge. In this work, the fabrication of a highly flexible strain sensor based on electrospun thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) fibrous tubes comprising wavy and oriented fibers coated with carboxylated multiwall carbon nanotubes (CNTs) is described. By combining spraying and ultrasonic-assisted deposition, the number of CNTs deposited on the electrospun TPU fibrous tube could reach 12 wt%, which can potentially lead to the formation of an excellent conductive network with high conductivity of 0.01 S/cm. The as-prepared strain sensors exhibited a wide strain sensing range of 0–760% and importantly high linearity over the whole sensing range while maintaining high sensitivity with a GF of 57. Moreover, the strain sensors were capable of detecting a low strain (2%) and achieved a fast response time whilst retaining a high level of durability. The TPU/CNTs fibrous tube-based strain sensors were found capable of accurately monitoring both large and small human body motions. Additionally, the strain sensors exhibited rapid response time, (e.g., 45 ms) combined with reliable long-term stability and durability when subjected to 60 min of water washing. The strain sensors developed in this research had the ability to detect large and subtle human motions, (e.g., bending of the finger, wrist, and knee, and swallowing). Consequently, this work provides an effective method for designing and manufacturing high-performance fiber-based wearable strain sensors, which offer wide strain sensing ranges and high linearity over broad working strain ranges.



National Natural Science Foundation of China; Youth Innovation Science and Technology Plan of Shandong Province; Shandong “Taishan Youth Scholar Program”