Led by  Professor Franz Konstantin ‘Tino’ Fuss, with various industry partners and $1.85M in funding, this project investigates the accuracy, manufacturing, costs, testing methods, calibration and application of piezoresistive sensors.  

Piezoresistive sensors change their electrical resistance when loaded (tension or compression). Piezoresistive sensors are mostly carbon-based (e.g. carbon black, carbon fibres, graphene).  

The carbon particles can be embedded in polymers and fibre composites or dispersed in fluids (piezoresistive inks). Piezoresistive inks can be screen-printed or painted, and, when left to dry, are converted to piezoresistive sensors. 

Piezoresistive sensors are mostly used for measuring force, pressure and stress, which is obtained from the electrical conductance of a piezoresistive sensor via the calibration curve.  

The most important feature of a piezoresistive sensor is its accuracy, which is often compromised by sensor instability, noise, drift, uneven loading, electrode design, circuitry design, too high resistance, and hysteresis. The latter phenomenon depends on the amount of ‘electrical viscosity’ (Fuss et al., 2019)

The amount of electrical viscosity is calculated from the fractional time derivative of the conductance that eliminates the hysteresis of the calibration curve, the fractional order of which corresponds to the value of the electrical viscosity – e.g. if a quarter-derivative eliminates the hysteresis, then the electrical viscosity is 0.25 or 25%. We proposed a new industry standard for determining the amount of viscosity of piezoresistive sensors (Fuss et al., 2019)

We are currently working on a classification system for assessment of sensor quality.  

Smart glass fibre composite infused with graphene during electromechanical testing, and the associated force and conductance signals.

Applications for Piezoresistive Sensor Technologies 

Apart from fundamental research, we have been using piezoresistive sensors for various applications, such as: 

  • smart insoles 
  • smart helmets (for real-time feedback of the Head Injury Criterion) 
  • smart soccer and football shoes (for determining the sweetspot) 
  • smart martial arts equipment (automated scoring system for Kendo) 
  • smart boxing gloves 
  • smart compression garments (for measuring muscle activity and fatigue) 
  • smart mats (for passenger counting) 
  • smart horseshoes (for advanced lameness diagnostics) 
  • smart defense applications 
  • smart composite materials.  
Load vs Conductance graph, representing the method for measuring the Electrical Viscosity.

Project timeframe 


Research team 

  • Graph detailing the location of the centre of pressure when kicking a ball with a smart football shoe to determine the ‘sweet spot’ and the ‘dead spot’ on the boot.
  • CDI Piezoresistive Sensor Technologies Project - Horse
    Smart horseshoe utilising piezoresistive sensors for advanced lameness diagnostics.
  • Smart Kendo Sword and Helmet for automated scoring.

See more projects from the Smart Products Engineering program

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