Analyzing the Strain Sensing Response of Photoactive Thin Films Using Absorption Spectroscopy
Structural health monitoring systems are required for detecting damage in structures so as to facilitate their timely maintenance and repair and to prevent catastrophic structural failure. To date, a variety of different sensor platforms (e.g., piezoelectric materials, fiber optics, and wireless sensors) have been proposed for SHM. However, they still suffer from high energy demand, large form factors, and durability issues, particularly when applied for monitoring space structures and reusable spacecraft. In a previous study, a bio-inspired and photocurrent-based strain sensor has been developed. This poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT)-based nanocomposite sensor has been shown to generate photocurrent whose magnitude varies in tandem with applied strain. However, the photocurrent generation performance of the sensor is quite low. In addition, the strain sensing mechanism is not fully understood. In this study, the performance of the photoactive thin films were enhanced, and its strain sensing characteristics were analyzed using ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) absorption spectroscopy. First, multilayered photoactive and P3HT-based thin films were assembled via spin coating. The photocurrent generation performance of the films was evaluated using two methodologies, namely its photocurrent time history and current-voltage (IV) response. Uniform coating of the photoactive layer and high purity aluminum electrodes were crucial for improving their photocurrent generation. Second, light absorption properties of the P3HT-based photoactive layer were investigated at different strain levels using a UV-Vis spectrophotometer. Light absorption was shown to vary linearly with applied tensile strains.
D. H. Ryu and K. J. Loh, "Analyzing the Strain Sensing Response of Photoactive Thin Films Using Absorption Spectroscopy", Key Engineering Materials, Vols. 569-570, pp. 695-701, 2013