Characterization of a flexible nanocomposite material for tactile sensing

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University of New Brunswick


This project investigates a new soft, flexible piezoresistive composite material, fabricated from Sylgard® 184 silicone elastomer and generic carbon nanotubes (CNTs). This explorative project specifically investigates the overall material production procedure and measurement methods in an attempt to understand and characterize the material properties. The material production method will show that employing sonication mixing of CNTs in chloroform solvent overcomes the characteristic clumping behaviour that prevents uniform dispersion of the filler in solution. This study explores the importance of the heat curing process and demonstrates the difficulties in the fabrication process. The bulk resistance of the material is measured using both ASTM standards and by a custom created 20-point uniformity measurement device. A selection of electrode materials are tested and compared to see the effect of surface resistance in attempt to measure the uniformity of the bulk resistance. This study reports the creation of a pressure sensitive composite material following a developed material recipe, demonstrates the effectiveness of CNT dispersion in Sylgard by means of sonication, that the average bulk resistance is best measured using the ASTM standard method and demonstrating that the developed 20-Point test method is a viable means of measuring resistive uniformity under dynamic force loading.