We report on the production, characterization, and textile integration of polymer optical fibers (POF) to develop a flexible photonic sensor. Mono-component POFs were produced continuously by melt-extrusion. Advantageously for pressure sensing, the un-clad fibers are more susceptible to macro-bending.
The fibers’ mechanical and optical properties and their dependence on production parameters were investigated, allowing for tuning of the pressure sensitivity. The fibers also withstood cyclic loading with a linear, quick response.
We produced and successfully tested a demonstrator with a matrix of intersecting fibers secured on a textile substrate.
A possible application of this textile pressure sensor would be supervision of pressure on tissue as part of pressure ulcer prevention. Pressure ulcers are prevalent in paraplegics and bedbound sick. The lack of data at skin level still makes prevention difficult. Novel flexible sensors could deliver data while preventing further injury. When combined with a photoplethysmograph, the discussed matrix is foreseen to give information on the relationship between pressure and ceasing oxygen supply in the skin.