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Normal and Shear Force Measurement Using a Flexible Polymer Tactile Sensor With Embedded Multiple Capacitors

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4 Author(s)
Hyung-Kew Lee ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis, MN ; Jaehoon Chung ; Sun-Il Chang ; Euisik Yoon

In this paper, we report a new flexible capacitive tactile sensor array with the capability of measuring both normal and shear force distribution using polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) as a base material. A tactile cell consists of two thick PDMS layers with embedded electrodes, an air gap, and a pillar structure. The pillar structure is formed at the center of each tactile cell between the air gap under a large bump. There are four capacitors in a cell to decompose the contact force into normal and shear components. Four capacitors are arranged in a square form. If a normal force is applied on the bump, the PDMS layer on the pillar structure is compressed, and the air gap between the top and bottom electrodes decreases, resulting in the increase in all four capacitances. If a shear force is applied, a torque is induced around the pillar. Therefore, the capacitance of the two capacitors increases, whereas that of the other two decreases. The bump and the pillar structure play a critical role to generate a torque for shear force measurement. The sensor has been realized in an 8 x 8 array of unit sensors, and each unit sensor responds to normal and shear stresses in all three axes, respectively. Measurement of a single sensor shows that the full-scale range of detectable force is about 10 mN, which corresponds to 131 kPa in three directions. The sensitivities of a cell measured with a current setup are 2.5%/mN, 3.0%/mN, and 2.9 %/mN for the x-, y-, and z-directions, respectively. Normal and shear force images are also captured from a 4 x 4 array of the fabricated sensor. Distinctive characteristic patterns appear when a shear force is applied to the sensor.

Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 4 )