In this paper we introduce a novel, flexible, system for mechanical deformation detection. The core of the system is based on an Organic Thin Film Transistor (OTFT) which has been assembled on a flexible PET substrate and patterned by means of inkjet printing. OTFT-based mechanical sensors were fabricated employing two different organic semiconductors, namely a small molecule (pentacene) deposited by thermal evaporation and its solution-processable derivative 6,13-bis(triisopropylsilylethynyl)-pentacene (TIPS-pentacene) deposited by drop casting. It will be shown that the surface deformation induced by an external mechanical stimulus gives rise in both cases to a marked, reproducible and reversible (within a certain rage of surface deformation) variation of the device output current. Starting from these results, more complex structures such as arrays and matrices of OTFT-based mechanical sensors have been fabricated by means of inkjet printing. Thanks to the flexibility of the introduced structure, we will show that the presented system can be transferred on different surfaces (hard and soft) and employed for a wide range of applications. In particular, we have designed and fabricated a fully functional system based on a matrix of 64 elements that can be employed for detecting mechanical stimuli over larger areas, and will demonstrate that such a system can be successfully employed for tactile transduction in the realization of artificial “robot skins”.
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