Graphene Based Transparent Flexible Strain Gauges with Tuneable Sensitivity and Strain Range

Joseph Neilson, Pietro Cataldi, Brian Derby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Monolayers of graphene oxide, assembled into densely packed sheets at an immiscible hexane/water interface, form transparent conducting films on poly-dimethylsiloxane membranes after reduction in hydroiodic acid (HI) vapour to reduced graphene oxide (rGO). Prestraining and relaxing the membranes introduces cracks in the rGO film. Subsequent straining opens these cracks and induces piezoresistivity, enabling their application as transparent strain gauges. The sensitivity and strain range of these gauges is controlled by the cracked film structure that is determined by the reducing conditions used in manufacture. Reduction for 30 s in HI vapour leads to an array of parallel cracks that do not individually span the membrane. These cracks do not extend on subsequent straining, leading to a gauge with usable strain range > 0.2 and gauge factor (GF) at low strains ranging from 20 to 100, depending on the pre-strain applied. The GF reduces with increasing applied strain and asymptotes to about 3, for all pre-strains. Reduction for 60 s leads to the cracks spanning the entire membrane and an increased film resistance but a highly sensitive strain gauge, with GF ranging from 800 – 16000. However, the usable strain range reduces to < 0.01. A simple equivalent resistor model is proposed to describe the behaviour of both gauge types. The gauges show a repeatable and stable response with loading frequencies > 1 kHz and have been used to detect human body strains in a simple e-skin demonstration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Applied Nano Materials
Issue number23
Early online date22 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2023


  • Reduced graphene oxide
  • strain gauges
  • piezoresistive
  • tuneability
  • kirigami
  • channel cracks
  • crack patterns


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