Skin-like pressure and strain sensors based on transparent elastic films of carbon nanotubes

Nat Nanotechnol. 2011 Oct 23;6(12):788-92. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2011.184.


Transparent, elastic conductors are essential components of electronic and optoelectronic devices that facilitate human interaction and biofeedback, such as interactive electronics, implantable medical devices and robotic systems with human-like sensing capabilities. The availability of conducting thin films with these properties could lead to the development of skin-like sensors that stretch reversibly, sense pressure (not just touch), bend into hairpin turns, integrate with collapsible, stretchable and mechanically robust displays and solar cells, and also wrap around non-planar and biological surfaces such as skin and organs, without wrinkling. We report transparent, conducting spray-deposited films of single-walled carbon nanotubes that can be rendered stretchable by applying strain along each axis, and then releasing this strain. This process produces spring-like structures in the nanotubes that accommodate strains of up to 150% and demonstrate conductivities as high as 2,200 S cm(-1) in the stretched state. We also use the nanotube films as electrodes in arrays of transparent, stretchable capacitors, which behave as pressure and strain sensors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosensing Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Elasticity
  • Electronics
  • Humans
  • Nanotechnology / instrumentation*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry*
  • Pressure*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Surface Properties


  • Nanotubes, Carbon