Tunable Electrical Properties of Embossed, Cellulose-Based Paper for Skin-like Sensing

Tongfen Liang, Xiyue Zou, Ramendra Kishor Pal, Jingjin Xie, Maame Konadu Assasie-Gyimah, Jiaqi Liu, Weijian Guo, Chuyang Chen, Max Tenorio, Daniel Sullivan, Anna Root, Paul Stansel, Anne Q. Mckeown, George J. Weng, William W. Sampson, Assimina A. Pelegri, Aaron D. Mazzeo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article describes a process of fabricating highly porous paper from cellulosic fibers and carbon black (CB) with tunable conductivity. By embossing such paper, its porosity decreases while its conductivity increases. Tuning the porosity of composite paper alters the magnitude and trend of conductivity over a spectrum of concentrations of conductive particles. The largest increase in conductivity from 8.38 × 10-6 to 2.5 × 10-3 S/m by a factor of ∼300 occurred at a percolation threshold of 3.8 wt % (or 0.36 vol %) with the composite paper plastically compressed by 410 MPa, which caused a decrease of porosity from 88% to 42% on average. Our composite paper showed stable piezoresistive responses within a broad pressure range from 1 kPa up to 5.5 MPa for 800 cycles. The piezoresistive sensitivities of the composite paper were dependent on concentration and decreased with pressure. Composite paper with 7.5 wt % CB had sensitivities of -0.514 kPa-1 over applied pressures ranging from 1 to 50 kPa and -0.215 kPa-1 from 1 to 250 kPa. This piezoresistive paper with embossed patterns enabled touch sensing and detection of damage from darts and punches. Understanding the percolation behavior of three-phase composites (cellulosic fibers/conductive particles/air) and their response to damage, pressure, and processing conditions has the potential to enable scalable applications in prosthetics and robotics, haptic feedback, or structural health monitoring on expansive surfaces of buildings and vehicles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51960-51968
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number46
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2020


  • embossing
  • piezoresistive paper
  • skin-like sensing
  • three-phase composite
  • tunable conductivity


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