patent number 7849751
The present invention is directed to novel contact sensors. The contact sensors of the invention include a conductive composite material formed of a polymer and a conductive filler. In one particular embodiment, the composite materials can include less than about 10 wt % conductive filler. Thus, the composite material of the contact sensors can have physical characteristics essentially identical to the polymer, while being electrically conductive with the electrical resistance proportional to the load on the sensor. If desired, the sensors can be formed of the same polymeric material as the bearing that is being examined. The sensors can provide real time dynamic contact information for joint members under conditions expected during use. In one particular embodiment, the sensors can be used to examine dynamic wear characteristics of artificial joint bearings such as artificial knee, hip, or shoulder bearings.
Clemson University Research Foundation (Clemson, SC, US)