3D Printing of Flexible Liquid Sensor Based on Swelling Behavior of Hydrogel with Carbon Nanotubes

Xiangjia Li, Yang Yang, Benshuai Xie, Ming Chu, Haofan Sun, Siyang Hao, Yiyu Chen, Yong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Flexible sensors with accurate detection of environmental stimuli (e.g., humidity and chemical substances) have drawn increasing research interests in biomedical engineering and environmental science. However, most work is focused on isotropic sensing of liquid occurrence due to the limitation of material development, sensor design, and fabrication capability. 3D printing is used to build multifunctional flexible liquid sensors with multimaterials enabling anisotropic detection of microliquid droplets, and described herein. Electrical conductive composite hydrogels capable of detecting chemical liquid are developed with poly (ethylene diacrylate) (PEGDA) and multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT). Due to the absorption of the liquid droplet and related swelling behavior, the resistance of PEGDA/MWCNT composite hydrogel increases dramatically, while the resistance of pure PEGDA hydrogel decreases significantly. Based on the two composite hydrogels and the related 3D printing method, a mesh-shaped liquid sensor that can effectively identify the position and volume of liquid leakage in a short time is developed. Furthermore, a three-layered liquid sensor to enable bidirectional monitor and detection of the liquid leakage in two different sides is demonstrated. The 3D-printed liquid sensor offers a distinctive perspective on the potential applications in various fields for detection of liquid leakage in accurate position and direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1800476
JournalAdvanced Materials Technologies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D printing
  • hydrogel
  • liquid sensor
  • multiwall carbon nanotube
  • swelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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