Skip to main content

Significant strain-rate dependence of sensing behavior in TiO2@carbon fibre/PDMS composites for flexible strain sensors


Carbon fibre (CF) embedded into elastomeric media has been attracting incredible interest as flexible strain sensors in the application of skin electronics owing to their high sensitivity in a very small strain gauge. To further improve the sensitivity of CF/PDMS composite strain sensor, the relatively low temperature prepared TiO2 nanowire via hydrothermal route was employed herein to functionalize CF. The results showed a significant increase in the sensitivity of the TiO2@CF/PDMS composite strain sensors which was reflected by the calculated gauge factor. As the prepared TiO2 nanowire vertically embraced the surroundings of the CF, the introduced TiO2 nanowire contributed to a highly porous structure which played a predominant role in improving the sensitivity of strain sensors. Moreover, the significant strain rate dependent behavior of TiO2@CF/PDMS strain sensor was revealed when performing monotonic tests at varied strain rate. Therefore, introducing TiO2 nanowire on CF offers a new technique for fabricating flexible strain sensors with improved sensitivity for the application of flexible electronics.


  1. [1]

    Liao XQ, Liao QL, Yan XQ, et al. Flexible and highly sensitive strain sensors fabricated by pencil drawn for wearable monitor. Adv Funct Mater 2015, 25: 2395–2401.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. [2]

    Zhong JW, Zhong QZ, Hu QY, et al. Stretchable self-powered fiber-based strain sensor. Adv Funct Mater 2015, 25: 1798–1803.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. [3]

    Li LH, Xiang HY, Xiong Y, et al. Ultrastretchable fiber sensor with high sensitivity in whole workable range for wearable electronics and implantable medicine. Adv Sci 2018, 5: 1800558.

    Google Scholar 

  4. [4]

    Li XT, Hu HB, Hua T, et al. Wearable strain sensing textile based on one-dimensional stretchable and weavable yarn sensors. Nano Res 2018, 11: 5799–5811.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. [5]

    Heo JS, Eom J, Kim YH, et al. Recent progress of textile-based wearable electronics: A comprehensive review of materials, devices, and applications. Small 2018, 14: 1703034.

    Google Scholar 

  6. [6]

    Atalay O, Atalay A, Gafford J, et al. A highly stretchable capacitive-based strain sensor based on metal deposition and laser rastering. Adv Mater Technol 2017, 2: 1700081.

    Google Scholar 

  7. [7]

    Liao XQ, Wang WS, Wang L, et al. Controllably enhancing stretchability of highly sensitive fiber-based strain sensors for intelligent monitoring. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 2019, 11: 2431–2440.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. [8]

    Liu P, Pan WD, Liu Y, et al. Fully flexible strain sensor from core-spun elastic threads with integrated electrode and sensing cell based on conductive nanocomposite. Compos Sci Technol 2018, 159: 42–49.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. [9]

    Montazerian H, Rashidi A, Milani AS, et al. Integrated sensors in advanced composites: A critical review. Crit Rev Solid State Mater Sci 2020, 45: 187–238.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. [10]

    Yu SL, Wang XP, Xiang HX, et al. Superior piezoresistive strain sensing behaviors of carbon nanotubes in one-dimensional polymer fiber structure. Carbon 2018, 140: 1–9.

    Google Scholar 

  11. [11]

    Liu ZY, Qi DP, Hu GY, et al. Surface strain redistribution on structured microfibers to enhance sensitivity of fiber-shaped stretchable strain sensors. Adv Mater 2018, 30: 1704229.

    Google Scholar 

  12. [12]

    Zhou J, Xu XZ, Xin YY, et al. Coaxial thermoplastic elastomer-wrapped carbon nanotube fibers for deformable and wearable strain sensors. Adv Funct Mater 2018, 28: 1705591.

    Google Scholar 

  13. [13]

    Huang T, He P, Wang RR, et al. Porous fibers composed of polymer nanoball decorated graphene for wearable and highly sensitive strain sensors. Adv Funct Mater 2019, 29: 1903732.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. [14]

    Ryu J, Kim J, Oh J, et al. Intrinsically stretchable multifunctional fiber with energy harvesting and strain sensing capability. Nano Energy 2019, 55: 348–353.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. [15]

    Jang Y, Kim SM, Spinks GM, et al. Carbon nanotube yarn for fiber-shaped electrical sensors, actuators, and energy storage for smart systems. Adv Mater 2020, 32: 1902670.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. [16]

    Kapoor A, McKnight M, Chatterjee K, et al. Toward fully manufacturable, fiber assembly-based concurrent multimodal and multifunctional sensors for e-textiles. Adv Mater Technol 2019, 4: 1800281.

    Google Scholar 

  17. [17]

    Yan T, Zhou H, Niu HT, et al. Highly sensitive detection of subtle movement using a flexible strain sensor from helically wrapped carbon yarns. J Mater Chem C 2019, 7: 10049–10058.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. [18]

    Trung TQ, Le HS, Dang TML, et al. Freestanding, fiber-based, wearable temperature sensor with tunable thermal index for healthcare monitoring. Adv Healthc Mater 2018, 7: 1800074.

    Google Scholar 

  19. [19]

    Luo JC, Gao SJ, Luo H, et al. Superhydrophobic and breathable smart MXene-based textile for multifunctional wearable sensing electronics. Chem Eng J 2021, 406: 126898.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. [20]

    Lin LW, Wang L, Li B, et al. Dual conductive network enabled superhydrophobic and high performance strain sensors with outstanding electro-thermal performance and extremely high gauge factors. Chem Eng J 2020, 385: 123391.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. [21]

    Nguyen NT, Ozkan S, Hwang I, et al. Spaced TiO2 nanotube arrays allow for a high performance hierarchical supercapacitor structure. J Mater Chem A 2017, 5: 1895–1901.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. [22]

    Liao Q, Mohr M, Zhang X, et al. Carbon fiber-ZnO nanowire hybrid structures for flexible and adaptable strain sensors. Nanoscale 2013, 5: 12350–12355.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. [23]

    Hu SM, Yue JL, Jiang C, et al. Resistive switching behavior and mechanism in flexible TiO2@Cf memristor crossbars. Ceram Int 2019, 45: 10182–10186.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. [24]

    Jia YY, Yue XY, Wang YL, et al. Multifunctional stretchable strain sensor based on polydopamine/reduced graphene oxide/electrospun thermoplastic polyurethane fibrous mats for human motion detection and environment monitoring. Compos B: Eng 2020, 183: 107696.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. [25]

    Zhu PY, Xie XB, Sun XP, et al. Distributed modular temperature-strain sensor based on optical fiber embedded in laminated composites. Compos B: Eng 2019, 168: 267–273.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. [26]

    Lau KT, Hung PY, Zhu MH, et al. Properties of natural fibre composites for structural engineering applications. ComposB: Eng 2018, 136: 222–233.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. [27]

    Kwon DJ, Shin PS, Kim JH, et al. Detection of damage in cylindrical parts of carbon fiber/epoxy composites using electrical resistance (ER) measurements. Compos B: Eng 2016, 99: 528–532.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. [28]

    Wu SY, Peng SH, Wang CH. Stretchable strain sensors based on PDMS composites with cellulose sponges containing one- and two-dimensional nanocarbons. Sens Actuat A: Phys 2018, 279: 90–100.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. [29]

    Ma ZH, Xu R, Wang W, et al. A wearable, anti-bacterial strain sensor prepared by silver plated cotton/spandex blended fabric for human motion monitoring. Colloids Surf A: Physicochem Eng Asp 2019, 582: 123918.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. [30]

    Wang L, Chen Y, Lin LW, et al. Highly stretchable, anti-corrosive and wearable strain sensors based on the PDMS/CNTs decorated elastomer nanofiber composite. Chem Eng J 2019, 362: 89–98.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. [31]

    Guo DJ, Pan XD, He H. A simple and cost-effective method for improving the sensitivity of flexible strain sensors based on conductive polymer composites. Sens Actuat A Phys 2019, 298: 111608.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. [32]

    Häntzsche E, Matthes A, Nocke A, et al. Characteristics of carbon fiber based strain sensors for structural-health monitoring of textile-reinforced thermoplastic composites depending on the textile technological integration process. Sens Actuat A Phys 2013, 203: 189–203.

    Google Scholar 

  33. [33]

    Yang YN, Cao ZR, He P, et al. Ti3C2Tx MXene-graphene composite films for wearable strain sensors featured with high sensitivity and large range of linear response. Nano Energy 2019, 66: 104134.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  34. [34]

    Min S, Asrulnizam AM, Atsunori M, et al. Properties of stretchable and flexible strain sensor based on silver/PDMS nanocomposites. Mater Today 2019, 17: 616–622.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. [35]

    Anderson N, Szorc N, Gunasekaran V, et al. Highly sensitive screen printed strain sensors on flexible substrates via ink composition optimization. Sens Actuat A Phys 2019, 290: 1–7.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  36. [36]

    Gao ZJ, Li YF, Shang XL, et al. Bio-inspired adhesive and self-healing hydrogels as flexible strain sensors for monitoring human activities. Mater Sci Eng C 2020, 106: 110168.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. [37]

    Huang JY, Li DW, Zhao M, et al. Flexible electrically conductive biomass-based aerogels for piezoresistive pressure/strain sensors. J Chem Eng 2019, 373: 1357–1366.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  38. [38]

    Zhu P, Zhao ZM, Nie JH, et al. Ultra-high sensitivity strain sensor based on piezotronic bipolar transistor. Nano Energy 2018, 50: 744–749.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  39. [39]

    Lu ST, Chen DS, Liu C, et al. A 3-D finger motion measurement system via soft strain sensors for hand rehabilitation. Sens Actuat A Phys 2019, 285: 700–711.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. [40]

    Liu Y, Shi XL, Liu SR, et al. Biomimetic printable nanocomposite for healable, ultrasensitive, stretchable and ultradurable strain sensor. Nano Energy 2019, 63: 103898.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  41. [41]

    Ma LF, Yang W, Wang YS, et al. Multi-dimensional strain sensor based on carbon nanotube film with aligned conductive networks. Compos Sci Technol 2018, 165: 190–197.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  42. [42]

    Bessonov A, Kirikova M, Haque S, et al. Highly reproducible printable graphite strain gauges for flexible devices. Sens Actuat A Phys 2014, 206: 75–80.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  43. [43]

    Qiu AD, Li PL, Yang ZK, et al. A path beyond metal and silicon: Polymer/nanomaterial composites for stretchable strain sensors. Adv Funct Mater 2019, 29: 1806306.

    Google Scholar 

  44. [44]

    Zhang F, Wu SY, Peng SH, et al. The effect of dual-scale carbon fibre network on sensitivity and stretchability of wearable sensors. Compos Sci Technol 2018, 165: 131–139.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  45. [45]

    Song HL, Zhang JQ, Chen DB, et al. Superfast and high-sensitivity printable strain sensors with bioinspired micron-scale cracks. Nanoscale 2017, 9: 1166–1173.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  46. [46]

    Amjadi M, Turan M, Clementson CP, et al. Parallel microcracks-based ultrasensitive and highly stretchable strain sensors. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 2016, 8: 5618–5626.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  47. [47]

    Gao Y, Fang X, Tan J, et al. Highly sensitive strain sensors based on fragmentized carbon nanotube/polydimethylsiloxane composites. Nanotechnology 2018, 29: 235501.

    Google Scholar 

  48. [48]

    Shi XL, Liu SR, Sun Y, et al. Lowering internal friction of 0D-1D-2D ternary nanocomposite-based strain sensor by fullerene to boost the sensing performance. Adv Funct Mater 2018, 28: 1800850.

    Google Scholar 

  49. [49]

    Liu H, Li YL, Dai K, et al. Electrically conductive thermoplastic elastomer nanocomposites at ultralow graphene loading levels for strain sensor applications. J Mater Chem C 2016, 4: 157–166.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  50. [50]

    Sato J, Sekine T, Wang YF, et al. Ferroelectric polymer-based fully printed flexible strain rate sensors and their application for human motion capture. Sens Actuat A Phys 2019, 295: 93–98.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  51. [51]

    Li YH, Zhou B, Zheng GQ, et al. Continuously prepared highly conductive and stretchable SWNT/MWNT synergistically composited electrospun thermoplastic polyurethane yarns for wearable sensing. J Mater Chem C 2018, 6: 2258–2269.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  52. [52]

    Lin Y, Dong X, Liu S, et al. Graphene-elastomer composites with segregated nanostructured network for liquid and strain sensing application. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 2016, 8: 24143–24151.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  53. [53]

    Moriche R, Jiménez-Suàrez A, Sanchez M, et al. Sensitivity, influence of the strain rate and reversibility of GNPs based multiscale composite materials for high sensitive strain sensors. Compos Sci Technol 2018, 155: 100–107.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  54. [54]

    Qin Y, Peng Q, Ding Y, et al. Lightweight, superelastic, and mechanically flexible graphene/polyimide nanocomposite foam for strain sensor application. ACS Nano 2015, 9: 8933–8941.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  55. [55]

    Li YQ, Zhu WB, Yu XG, et al. Multifunctional wearable device based on flexible and conductive carbon sponge/polydimethylsiloxane composite. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 2016, 8: 33189–33196.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  56. [56]

    Li YQ, Samad YA, Taha T, et al. Highly flexible strain sensor from tissue paper for wearable electronics. ACS Sustain Chem Eng 2016, 4: 4288–4295.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


The research was supported by the Start-Up Funds for Outstanding Talents in Central South University through Project Nos. 202045007 and 202044017. Moreover, the authors would like to appreciate the assistance from Dr. Yin Yao for the help of SEM characterisation.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hailong Hu.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

To view a copy of this licence, visit

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zhang, F., Hu, H., Hu, S. et al. Significant strain-rate dependence of sensing behavior in TiO2@carbon fibre/PDMS composites for flexible strain sensors. J Adv Ceram 10, 1350–1359 (2021).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • composites
  • dependence of strain rate
  • sensitivity
  • flexible strain sensors