There is a need for high-performance force sensors capable of operating at frequencies near DC while producing a minimal mass penalty. Example application areas include steering wheel sensors, powertrain torque sensors, robotic arms, and minimally invasive surgery. The beta crystallographic phase polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) films are suitable for this purpose owing to their large piezoelectric constant. Unlike conventional capacitive sensors, beta crystallographic phase PVDF films exhibit a broad linear range and can potentially be designed to operate without complex electronics or signal processing. A fundamental challenge that prevents the implementation of PVDF in certain high-performance applications is their inability to measure static signals, which results from their first-order electrical impedance. Charge readout algorithms have been implemented which address this issue only partially, as they often require integration of the output signal to obtain the applied force profile, resulting in signal drift and signal processing complexities. In this paper, we propose a straightforward real time drift compensation strategy that is applicable to high output impedance PVDF films. This strategy makes it possible to utilize long sample times with a minimal loss of accuracy; our measurements show that the static output remains within 5% of the original value during half-hour measurements. The sensitivity and full-scale range are shown to be determined by the feedback capacitance of the charge amplifier. A linear model of the PVDF sensor system is developed and validated against experimental measurements, along with benchmark tests against a commercial load cell.
Arun Kumar Ramanathan, Leon M. Headings, and Marcelo J. Dapino, "Near DC force measurement using PVDF sensors," Proc. SPIE 10602, Smart Structures and NDE for Industry 4.0, 106020M (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 06, 2018; Published: 27 March 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2296849.
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