A flexible, strain sensor for monitoring uniaxial deformations in oriented polymer films is demonstrated. The sensor consists of a crosslinked cholesteric liquid crystal layer which is spray-coated on a uniaxially oriented polyamide 6 substrate. When no deformation is applied, reflectivity measurements showed a well-defined reflection band. Upon uniaxial extension, the reflection band shifted towards lower wavelengths. A 40 nm shift was recorded for 13% of strain. This wavelength shift is attributed to a decrease in the cholesteric helix's pitch which is induced by the change in thickness of the CLC coating due to Poisson's contraction. As a result the colour of the film changed from orange to green with increasing strain. The optical response was found to follow the mechanical behaviour of the polymer substrate. Cycling loading showed a time dependent optical response of the sensor fitting with the viscoplastic mechanical response of the substrate giving real time information on the deformation.
Picot, O. T., Dai, M., Billoti, E., Broer, D. J., Peijs, A. A. J. M., & Bastiaansen, C. W. M. (2013). A real time optical strain sensor based on a cholesteric liquid crystal network. RSC Advances, 3(41), 18794-18798. https://doi.org/10.1039/C3RA42986E