Polymeric foams, embedded with nano-scale conductive particles, have previously been shown to display quasi-piezoelectric (QPE) properties; i.e., they produce a voltage in response to rapid deformation. This behavior has been utilized to sense impact and vibration in foam components, such as in sports padding and vibration-isolating pads. However, a detailed characterization of the sensing behavior has not been undertaken. Furthermore, the potential for sensing quasi-static deformation in the same material has not been explored. This paper provides new insights into these self-sensing foams by characterizing voltage response vs frequency of deformation. The correlation between temperature and voltage response is also quantified. Furthermore, a new sensing functionality is observed, in the form of a piezoresistive response to quasi-static deformation. The piezoresistive characteristics are quantified for both in-plane and through-thickness resistance configurations. The new functionality greatly enhances the potential applications for the foam, for example, as insoles that can characterize ground reaction force and pressure during dynamic and/or quasi-static circumstances, or as seat cushioning that can sense pressure and impact.
Keywords: multifunctional; nanocomposite; piezoelectric; piezoresistive.