Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 2439–2453 | Cite as

Highly stretchable, breathable and negative resistance variation textile strain sensor with excellent mechanical stability for wearable electronics

  • Kai Zhao
  • Wenbin NiuEmail author
  • Shufen Zhang
Electronic materials


In recent years, wearable and stretchable electronic devices have attracted great research interest and effort due to their promising applications in electronic skin, wearable health monitoring, human–machine interactions and so on. However, it still remains a great challenge to fabricate highly stretchable and wearable devices with excellent breathability, mechanical robustness and laundering durability. Herein, we fabricated a highly stretchable and breathable textile strain sensor based on conductive polyester fabric (CPF) with weft-knitted structure by chemically growing conductive and transparent Al-doped ZnO (AZO) element via atomic layer deposition (ALD). The CPF strain sensor demonstrates captivating performance, including high stretchability (up to 130%) and long-term stability (3000 cycles), as well as a distinct negative resistance variation with increasing strain owing to its weft-knitted structure. Most importantly, due to the formation of chemical interactions between textiles and AZO films during ALD process, the CPF strain sensor exhibits excellent mechanical robustness and laundering durability under reciprocating rubbing (50 kPa load pressure, 30 cycles), washing (500 r/min for 10 cycles, 200 min) and light fastness (accelerated light aging test for 7 days), thus allowing the fabrication of breathable and comfortable wearable sensor without elastomer encapsulation. Based on its admirable performances, the CPF strain sensor can be easily knitted or sewed on garments or attached on human skin directly for tracking both large and subtle human motions, revealing its numerous prospects in wearable electronics, intelligent robotics and other fields.



The work was supported by the Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (21536002), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21506023), Natural Science Foundation of Liaoning Province (20180550501), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (DUT19JC14), the Fund for innovative research groups of the National Natural Science Fund Committee of Science (21421005) and the Innovation Research Team in University (IRT_13R06).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interest.

Supplementary material

10853_2019_4189_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1352 kb)


  1. 1.
    Amjadi M, Kyung KU, Park I, Sitti M (2016) Stretchable, skin-mountable, and wearable strain sensors and their potential applications: a review. Adv Funct Mater 26:1678–1698Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Liu Y, Pharr M, Salvatore GA (2017) Lab-on-skin: a review of flexible and stretchable electronics for wearable health monitoring. ACS Nano 11:9614–9635Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rogers JA, Someya T, Huang YG (2010) Materials and mechanics for stretchable electronics. Science 327:1603–1607Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Trung TQ, Lee NE (2016) Flexible and stretchable physical sensor integrated platforms for wearable human-activity monitoring and personal healthcare. Adv Mater 28:4338–4372Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wang CY, Xia KL, Wang HM, Liang XP, Yin Z, Zhang YY (2019) Advanced carbon for flexible and wearable electronics. Adv Mater 31:1801072Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Du DH, Li PC, Ouyang JY (2016) Graphene coated nonwoven fabrics as wearable sensors. J Mater Chem C 4:3224–3230Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ma JH, Wang P, Chen HY, Bao SJ, Chen W, Lu HB (2019) Highly sensitive and large-range strain sensor with a self-compensated two-order structure for human motion detection. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 11:8527–8536Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Yamada T, Hayamizu Y, Yamamoto Y, Yomogida Y, Izadi-Najafabadi A, Futaba DN, Hata K (2011) A stretchable carbon nanotube strain sensor for human-motion detection. Nat Nanotechnol 6:296–301Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Yao SS, Zhu Y (2014) Wearable multifunctional sensors using printed stretchable conductors made of silver nanowires. Nanoscale 6:2345–2352Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Yin B, Wen YW, Hong T, Xie ZS, Yuan GL, Ji QM, Jia HB (2017) Highly stretchable, ultrasensitive, and wearable strain sensors based on facilely prepared reduced graphene oxide woven fabrics in an ethanol flame. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 9:32054–32064Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Zhang HX, Niu WB, Zhang SF (2018) Extremely stretchable, stable, and durable strain sensors based on double-network organogels. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 10:32640–32648Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Li LH, Bai YY, Li LL, Wang SQ, Zhang T (2017) A superhydrophobic smart coating for flexible and wearable sensing electronics. Adv Mater 29:1702517Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Liu YQ, He K, Chen G, Leow WR, Chen XD (2017) Nature-inspired structural materials for flexible electronic devices. Chem Rev 117:12893–12941Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Yang TT, Wang W, Zhang HZ, Li XM, Shi JD, He YJ, Zheng QS, Li ZH, Zhu HW (2015) Tactile sensing system based on arrays of graphene woven microfabrics: electromechanical behavior and electronic skin application. ACS Nano 9:10867–10875Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bauer S, Bauer-Gogonea S, Graz I, Kaltenbrunner M, Keplinger C, Schwodiauer R (2014) 25th anniversary article: a soft future: from robots and sensor skin to energy harvesters. Adv Mater 26:149–162Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wang CY, Li X, Gao EL, Jian MQ, Xia KL, Wang Q, Xu ZP, Ren TL, Zhang YY (2016) Carbonized silk fabric for ultrastretchable, highly sensitive, and wearable strain sensors. Adv Mater 28:6640–6648Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Wang Y, Wang L, Yang TT, Li X, Zang XB, Zhu M, Wang KL, Wu DH, Zhu HW (2014) Wearable and highly sensitive graphene strain sensors for human motion monitoring. Adv Funct Mater 24:4666–4670Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Liu X, Tang C, Du XH, Xiong SA, Xi SY, Liu YF, Shen X, Zheng QB, Wang ZY, Wu Y, Horner A, Kim JK (2017) A highly sensitive graphene woven fabric strain sensor for wearable wireless musical instruments. Mater Horiz 4:477–486Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Roh E, Hwang BU, Kim D, Kim BY, Lee NE (2015) Stretchable, transparent, ultrasensitive, and patchable strain sensor for human–machine interfaces comprising a nanohybrid of carbon nanotubes and conductive elastomers. ACS Nano 9:6252–6261Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Boland CS, Khan U, Backes C, O’Neill A, McCauley J, Duane S, Shanker R, Liu Y, Jurewicz I, Dalton AB, Coleman JN (2014) Sensitive, high-strain, high-rate bodily motion sensors based on graphene–rubber composites. ACS Nano 8:8819–8830Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Christ JF, Aliheidari N, Ameli A, Pötschke P (2017) 3D printed highly elastic strain sensors of multiwalled carbon nanotube/thermoplastic polyurethane nanocomposites. Mater Des 131:394–401Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Liu H, Gao JC, Huang WJ, Dai K, Zheng GQ, Liu CT, Shen CY, Yan XR, Guo J, Guo ZH (2016) Electrically conductive strain sensing polyurethane nanocomposites with synergistic carbon nanotubes and graphene bifillers. Nanoscale 8:12977–12989Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Shi G, Zhao ZH, Pai JH, Lee I, Zhang LQ, Stevenson C, Ishara K, Zhang RJ, Zhu HW, Ma J (2016) Highly sensitive, wearable, durable strain sensors and stretchable conductors using graphene/silicon rubber composites. Adv Funct Mater 26:7614–7625Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Liu ZY, Qi DP, Guo PZ, Liu Y, Zhu BW, Yang H, Liu YQ, Li B, Zhang CG, Yu JC, Liedberg B, Chen XD (2015) Thickness-gradient films for high gauge factor stretchable strain sensors. Adv Mater 27:6230–6237Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Yan CY, Wang JX, Kang WB, Cui MQ, Wang X, Foo CY, Chee KJ, Lee PS (2014) Highly stretchable piezoresistive graphene–nanocellulose nanopaper for strain sensors. Adv Mater 26:2022–2027Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Zhang C, Li H, Huang A, Zhang Q, Rui K, Lin H, Sun G, Zhu J, Peng H, Huang W (2019) Rational design of a flexible CNTs@PDMS film patterned by bio-inspired templates as a strain sensor and supercapacitor. Small 15:e1805493Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Zhang MC, Wang CY, Wang HM, Jian MQ, Hao XY, Zhang YY (2017) Carbonized cotton fabric for high-performance wearable strain sensors. Adv Funct Mater 27:1604795Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kim SJ, Song W, Yi Y, Min BK, Mondal S, An KS, Choi CG (2018) High durability and waterproofing rGO/SWCNT-fabric-based multifunctional sensors for human-motion detection. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 10:3921–3928Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Seyedin S, Zhang P, Naebe M, Qin S, Chen J, Wang XA, Razal JM (2019) Textile strain sensors: a review of the fabrication technologies, performance evaluation and applications. Mater Horiz 6:219–249Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Souri H, Bhattacharyya D (2018) Highly stretchable multifunctional wearable devices based on conductive cotton and wool fabrics. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 10:20845–20853Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Yang Z, Pang Y, Han XL, Yang YF, Ling J, Jian MQ, Zhang YY, Yang Y, Ren TL (2018) Graphene textile strain sensor with negative resistance variation for human motion detection. ACS Nano 12:9134–9141Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Cataldi P, Dussoni S, Ceseracciu L, Maggiali M, Natale L, Metta G, Athanassiou A, Bayer IS (2018) Carbon nanofiber versus graphene-based stretchable capacitive touch sensors for artificial electronic skin. Adv Sci 5:1700587Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Li MF, Li HY, Zhong WB, Zhao QH, Wang D (2014) Stretchable conductive polypyrrole/polyurethane (PPy/PU) strain sensor with netlike microcracks for human breath detection. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 6:1313–1319Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Wang X, Sparkman J, Gou J (2017) Strain sensing of printed carbon nanotube sensors on polyurethane substrate with spray deposition modeling. Compos Commun 3:1–6Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Trung TQ, Dang TML, Ramasundaram S, Toi PT, Park SY, Lee NE (2019) A stretchable strain-insensitive temperature sensor based on free-standing elastomeric composite fibers for on-body monitoring of skin temperature. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 11:2317–2327Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Cai GM, Yang MY, Xu ZL, Liu JG, Tang B, Wang XG (2017) Flexible and wearable strain sensing fabrics. Chem Eng J 325:396–403Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Lee T, Lee W, Kim SW, Kim JJ, Kim BS (2016) Flexible textile strain wireless sensor functionalized with hybrid carbon nanomaterials supported ZnO nanowires with controlled aspect ratio. Adv Funct Mater 26:6206–6214Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Li YD, Li YN, Su M, Li WB, Li YF, Li HZ, Qian X, Zhang XY, Li FY, Song YL (2017) Electronic textile by dyeing method for multiresolution physical kineses monitoring. Adv Electron Mater 3:1700253Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ren JS, Wang CX, Zhang X, Carey T, Chen KL, Yin YJ, Torrisi F (2017) Environmentally-friendly conductive cotton fabric as flexible strain sensor based on hot press reduced graphene oxide. Carbon 111:622–630Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Robert C, Feller JF, Castro M (2012) Sensing skin for strain monitoring made of PC-CNT conductive polymer nanocomposite sprayed layer by layer. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 4:3508–3516Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Amjadi M, Pichitpajongkit A, Lee S, Ryu S, Park I (2014) Highly stretchable and sensitive strain sensor based on silver nanowire-elastomer nanocomposite. ACS Nano 8:5154–5163Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Yang Z, Wang DY, Pang Y, Li YX, Wang Q, Zhang TY, Wang JB, Liu X, Yang YY, Jian JM, Jian MQ, Zhang YY, Yang Y, Ren TL (2018) Simultaneously detecting subtle and intensive human motions based on a silver nanoparticles bridged graphene strain sensor. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 10:3948–3954Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Zhang MC, Wang CY, Wang Q, Jian MQ, Zhang YY (2016) Sheath-core graphite/silk fiber made by dry-meyer-rod-coating for wearable strain sensors. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 8:20894–20899Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Cataldi P, Ceseracciu L, Athanassiou A, Bayer IS (2017) Healable cotton–graphene nanocomposite conductor for wearable electronics. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 9:13825–13830Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Huang GW, Xiao HM, Fu SY (2015) Wearable electronics of silver-nanowire/poly(dimethylsiloxane) nanocomposite for smart clothing. Sci Rep 5:13971Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Cao YQ, Cao ZY, Li X, Wu D, Li AD (2014) A facile way to deposit conformal Al2O3 thin film on pristine graphene by atomic layer deposition. Appl Surf Sci 291:78–82Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Chen FX, Yang HY, Li K, Deng B, Li QS, Liu X, Dong BH, Xiao XF, Wang D, Qin Y, Wang SM, Zhang KQ, Xu WL (2017) Facile and effective coloration of dye-inert carbon fiber fabrics with tunable colors and excellent laundering durability. ACS Nano 11:10330–10336Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Detavernier C, Dendooven J, Sree SP, Ludwig KF, Martens JA (2011) Tailoring nanoporous materials by atomic layer deposition. Chem Soc Rev 40:5242–5253Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    George SM (2010) Atomic layer deposition: an overview. Chem Rev 110:111–131Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Chen XY, Zhu HL, Chen YC, Shang YY, Cao AY, Hu LB, Rubloff GW (2012) MWCNT/V2O5 core/shell sponge for high areal capacity and power density Li-ion cathodes. ACS Nano 6:7948–7955Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Gui Z, Zhu HL, Gillette E, Han XG, Rubloff GW, Hu LB, Lee SB (2013) Natural cellulose fiber as substrate for supercapacitor. ACS Nano 7:6037–6046Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Jur JS, Spagnola JC, Lee K, Gong B, Peng Q, Parsons GN (2010) Temperature-dependent subsurface growth during atomic layer deposition on polypropylene and cellulose fibers. Langmuir 26:8239–8244Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Lee J, Yoon J, Kim HG, Kang S, Oh WS, Algadi H, Al-Sayari S, Shong B, Kim SH, Kim H, Lee T, Lee HBR (2016) Highly conductive and flexible fiber for textile electronics obtained by extremely low-temperature atomic layer deposition of Pt. NPG Asia Mater 8:e331Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Vogel NA, Williams PS, Brozena AH, Sen D, Atanasov S, Parsons GN, Khan SA (2015) Delayed dissolution and small molecule release from atomic layer deposition coated electrospun nanofibers. Adv Mater Interfaces 2:1500229Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Dasgupta NP, Neubert S, Lee W, Trejo O, Lee JR, Prinz FB (2010) Atomic layer deposition of Al-doped ZnO films: effect of grain orientation on conductivity. Chem Mater 22:4769–4775Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Kwon JH, Jeon Y, Choi KC (2018) Robust transparent and conductive gas diffusion multibarrier based on Mg- and Al-doped ZnO as indium tin oxide-free electrodes for organic electronics. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 10:32387–32396Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Na JS, Peng Q, Scarel G, Parsons GN (2009) Role of gas doping sequence in surface reactions and dopant incorporation during atomic layer deposition of Al-doped ZnO. Chem Mater 21:5585–5593Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Zhai CH, Zhang RJ, Chen X, Zheng YX, Wang SY, Liu J, Dai N, Chen LY (2016) Effects of Al doping on the properties of ZnO thin films deposited by atomic layer deposition. Nanoscale Res Lett 11:407Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Biccai S, Boland CS, O’Driscoll DP, Harvey A, Gabbett C, O’Suilleabhain DR, Griffin AJ, Li ZL, Young RJ, Coleman JN (2019) Negative gauge factor piezoresistive composites based on polymers filled with MoS2 nanosheets. ACS Nano 13:6845–6855Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Zhang MC, Wang CY, Liang XP, Yin Z, Xia KL, Wang H, Jian MQ, Zhang YY (2017) Weft-knitted fabric for a highly stretchable and low-voltage wearable heater. Adv Electron Mater 3:1700193Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Elliott SD, Dey G, Maimaiti Y, Ablat H, Filatova EA, Fomengia GN (2016) Modeling mechanism and growth reactions for new nanofabrication processes by atomic layer deposition. Adv Mater 28:5367–5380Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Niu W, Zhang L, Wang Y, Zhang S (2019) Multicolored one-dimensional photonic crystal coatings with excellent mechanical robustness, strong substrate adhesion, and liquid and particle impalement resistance. J Mater Chem C 7:3463–3470Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Lee SM, Pippel E, Gosele U, Dresbach C, Qin Y, Chandran CV, Brauniger T, Hause G, Knez M (2009) Greatly increased toughness of infiltrated spider silk. Science 324:488–492Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Vervuurt RHJ, Karasulu B, Verheijen MA, Kessels WMM, Bol AA (2017) Uniform atomic layer deposition of Al2O3 on graphene by reversible hydrogen plasma functionalization. Chem Mater 29:2090–2100Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Wen L, Sahu BB, Kim HR, Han JG (2019) Study on the electrical, optical, structural, and morphological properties of highly transparent and conductive AZO thin films prepared near room temperature. Appl Surf Sci 473:649–656Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Hussain SQ, Le AHT, Mallem K, Park H, Ju M, Kim Y, Cho J, Park J, Kim Y, Yi J (2018) Using the light scattering properties of multi-textured AZO films on inverted hemisphere textured glass surface morphologies to improve the efficiency of silicon thin film solar cells. Appl Surf Sci 447:866–875Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Meng Y, Tang BT, Ju BZ, Wu SL, Zhang SF (2017) Multiple colors output on voile through 3D colloidal crystals with robust mechanical properties. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 9:3024–3029Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Fine ChemicalsDalian University of TechnologyDalianPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations