strain gauge takes advantage of the physical property of electrical conductance and its dependence on not merely the electrical conductivity of a conductor, which is a property of its material, but also the conductor’s geometry. When an electrical conductor is stretched within the limits of its elasticity such that it does not break or permanently deform, it will become narrower and longer, changes that increase its electrical resistance end-to-end. Conversely, when a conductor is compressed such that it does not buckle, it will broaden and shorten, changes that decrease its electrical resistance end-to-end.
From the measured electrical resistance of the strain gauge, the amount of applied stress may be inferred. A typical strain gauge arranges a long, thin conductive strip in a zig-zag pattern of parallel lines such that a small amount of stress in the direction of the orientation of the parallel lines results in a multiplicatively larger strain over the effective length of the conductor—and hence a multiplicatively larger change in resistance than would be observed with a single straight-line conductive wire.