Carbon Nanotubes for Mechanical Sensor Applications
Herein, the evolution of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as functional material in nano‐ and microelectromechanical systems (N/MEMS) is featured. Introducing material morphologies for the CNTs in a homologue series (single CNTs-bundles, fibers, yarns-networks and thin films), different concepts for mechanical sensors based on the intrinsic and extrinsic properties of the CNT materials are introduced (piezoresistive effect, strain‐induced band bending, charge tunneling). In a rigorous theoretical treatment, the limits of the achievable sensor performance (i.e., gauge factor) are derived and discussed in the context of applications. A careful literature survey shows that highest sensitivity is reached for devices exploiting the intrinsic transport properties of single CNTs. For reliability tests of such sensor systems made from nanomaterials and classical MEMS, the specimen‐centered approach (SCA) is introduced to give viable insights into the structure property relationships and failure modes of CNT mechanical sensors. CNT actuation occurs on the macro‐, micro‐, and nanoscales via atomic force microscopy, electrostatic gating, integration in N/MEMS systems, or through substrate bending.