Electroactive polymers for sensing

Tiesheng Wang, Meisam Farajollahi, Yeon Sik Choi, I. Ting Lin, Jean E. Marshall, Noel M. Thompson, Sohini Kar-Narayan, John D.W. Madden, Stoyan K. Smoukov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


Electromechanical coupling in electroactive polymers (EAPs) has been widely applied for actuation and is also being increasingly investigated for sensing chemical and mechanical stimuli. EAPs are a unique class of materials, with low-moduli high-strain capabilities and the ability to conform to surfaces of different shapes. These features make them attractive for applications such as wearable sensors and interfacing with soft tissues. Here, we review the major types of EAPs and their sensing mechanisms. These are divided into two classes depending on the main type of charge carrier: Ionic EAPs (such as conducting polymers and ionic polymer–metal composites) and electronic EAPs (such as dielectric elastomers, liquid-crystal polymers and piezoelectric polymers). This review is intended to serve as an introduction to the mechanisms of these materials and as a first step in material selection for both researchers and designers of flexible/bendable devices, biocompatible sensors or even robotic tactile sensing units.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20160026
JournalInterface Focus
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug 6

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
S.K.S., T.W., I.T.L., J.E.M. and N.M.T. acknowledge funding through the European Research Council (ERC) grant EMATTER (grant no.: 280078). J.D.W.M. and M.F. acknowledge funding through a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). S.K.N. and Y.S.C. acknowledge funding through an ERC Starting Grant (grant no.: ERC-2014-STG-639526, NANOGEN). T.W. acknowledges scholarship funding from the China Scholarship Council (CSC) and support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council of the UK (EPSRC) Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications (grant no.: EP/L015889/1). Y.S.C. acknowledges studentship funding from the Cambridge Commonwealth, European & International Trust.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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