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J. Sens. Sens. Syst., 7, 69-78, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/jsss-7-69-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Regular research article
06 Feb 2018
Granular metal–carbon nanocomposites as piezoresistive sensor films – Part 2: Modeling longitudinal and transverse strain sensitivity
Silvan Schwebke1, Ulf Werner2, and Günter Schultes1 1Sensors and Thin Films Group, University of Applied Sciences, 66117 Saarbruecken, Germany
2Leibniz Institute for New Materials, 66123 Saarbruecken, Germany
Abstract. Granular and columnar nickel–carbon composites may exhibit large strain sensitivity, which makes them an interesting sensor material. Based on experimental results and morphological characterization of the material, we develop a model of the electron transport in the film and use it to explain its piezoresistive effect. First we describe a model for the electron transport from particle to particle. The model is then applied in Monte Carlo simulations of the resistance and strain properties of the disordered films that give a first explanation of film properties. The simulations give insights into the origin of the transverse sensitivity and show the influence of various parameters such as particle separation and geometric disorder. An important influence towards larger strain sensitivity is local strain enhancement due to different elastic moduli of metal particles and carbon matrix.

Citation: Schwebke, S., Werner, U., and Schultes, G.: Granular metal–carbon nanocomposites as piezoresistive sensor films – Part 2: Modeling longitudinal and transverse strain sensitivity, J. Sens. Sens. Syst., 7, 69-78, https://doi.org/10.5194/jsss-7-69-2018, 2018.

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Short summary
Nickel–Carbon thin films are excellent materials for strain and pressure sensors: they have a sensitivity much higher than conventional metal films and have tunable resistance–temperature characteristics. We investigate the electron conduction mechanisms that lead to their large sensitivity through modeling and numerical simulations. Transverse sensitivity is explained. It is shown in agreement with experiments that the largest sensitivity occurs for a specific nickel/carbon concentration.
Nickel–Carbon thin films are excellent materials for strain and pressure sensors: they have a...
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