Ultrasensitive Strain Gauges Enabled by Graphene-Stabilized Silicone Emulsions

Marcus A. O’Mara, Sean P. Ogilvie, Matthew J. Large, Aline Amorim Graf, Anne C. Sehnal, Peter J. Lynch, Jonathan P. Salvage, Izabela Jurewicz, Alice A.K. King, Alan B. Dalton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Here, an approach is presented to incorporate graphene nanosheets into a silicone rubber matrix via solid stabilization of oil-in-water emulsions. These emulsions can be cured into discrete, graphene-coated silicone balls or continuous, elastomeric films by controlling the degree of coalescence. The electromechanical properties of the resulting composites as a function of interdiffusion time and graphene loading level are characterized. With conductivities approaching 1 S m−1, elongation to break up to 160%, and a gauge factor of ≈20 in the low-strain linear regime, small strains such as pulse can be accurately measured. At higher strains, the electromechanical response exhibits a robust exponential dependence, allowing accurate readout for higher strain movements such as chest motion and joint bending. The exponential gauge factor is found to be ≈20, independent of loading level and valid up to 80% strain; this consistent performance is due to the emulsion-templated microstructure of the composites. The robust behavior may facilitate high-strain sensing in the nonlinear regime using nanocomposites, where relative resistance change values in excess of 107 enable highly accurate bodily motion monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2002433
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Authors. Published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and repro-duction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • composites
  • emulsions
  • graphene
  • silicone
  • strain sensing
  • SEM
  • Scanning electron microscopy


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