Date of Award

August 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering (Holcomb Dept. of)

Committee Member

Goutam Koley

Committee Member

William Rod Harrell

Committee Member

Pingshan Wang

Committee Member

Apparao M. Rao


Graphene, with its outstanding material properties, including high carrier mobility, atomically thin nature, and ability to tolerate mechanical deformation related strain up to 20% before breaking, make it very attractive for developing highly sensitive and conformable strain/pressure sensor for wearable electronics. Unfortunately, graphene by itself is not piezoresistive, so developing a strain sensor utilizing just graphene is challenging. Fortunately, graphene synthesized on Cu foil can be transferred to arbitrary substrates (preserving its high quality), including flexible polymer substrates, which will allow the overall flexibility and conformability of the sensing element, to be maintained. Furthermore, a graphene/polymer based sensor devices can be easily patterned into an array over dimensions reaching several feet, taking advantage of large area synthesis of graphene, which will make the ultimate sensor very inexpensive. If a piezo-electric polymer, such as P(VDF-TrFE), is chosen to form a heterojunction with graphene, it will strongly affect the carrier density in graphene, due to the fixed charge developing on its surface under strain or pressure. Taking advantage of the high carrier mobility in graphene, such a charge change can result in very high sensitivity to pressure and strain. Hence, these features, coupled with the flexible nature of the device and ease of fabrication, make it a very attractive candidate for use in the growing wearable technology market, especially biomedical applications and smart health monitoring system as well as virtual reality sensors.

In this dissertation, various unique properties of graphene and P(VDF-TrFE), and their current applications and trends are discussed in chapter 1. Additionally, synthesis of graphene and P(VDF-TrFE) and their characterizations by various techniques are investigated in chapter 2. Based on piezoelectric property of P(VDF-TrFE), a highly flexible energy harvesters on PDMS as well as PET substrates have been developed and demonstrated their performances in chapter 3. As follow-up research, graphene/P(VDF-TrFE) heterojunction based wearable sensors with integrated piezoelectric energy harvester on flexible substrates have also been fabricated and demonstrated for practical wearable application in chapter 4. Finally, major findings and future directions of the project are discussed in chapter 5.



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