Purpose – To establish an accurate and sensitive method to characterize the moisture content of a particular environment. Design/methodology/approach – This paper proposes a relatively simple humidity sensor design consisting of electrodes on a suitable substrate coated with a polyimide material. The changes in relative humidity are denoted by a corresponding change in the polyimide material's electrical resistance profile. The design proposed in this work can be microfabricated and integrated with electronic circuitry. This sensor can be fabricated on alumina or silicon substrates. The electrode material can be made up of nickel, gold or aluminum and the thickness of the electrodes ranges typically between 0.2 and 0.3 μ m. The sensor consists of an active sensing layer on top of a set of electrodes. The design of the electrodes can be configured for both resistive and capacitive sensing. Findings – The polyimide material's ohmic resistance changes significantly with humidity variations. Changes in resistance as large as 4‐6 orders of magnitude are attainable over the entire operational humidity range. Research limitations/implications – As the sensitivity varies non‐linearly with the humidity, the measurement has to be carried out over a very wide range in order to calibrate the sensor. The sensitivity and output range of the sensor can be easily controlled by changing the electrode spacing or geometry. Practical implications – The control of humidity is important in many applications ranging from bio‐medical to space exploration. Originality/value – A simple, easy to fabricate and measure, and low cost resistive‐type humidity sensor was developed. The realized sensor is suitable for integrating with microfabrication. Hence, multiple sensors of varying sensitivities and output ranges could be integrated on the same chip. Over the last few years, newly emerging micro‐electro‐mechanical‐systems technology and micro‐fabrication techniques have gained popularity and importance in the miniaturization of a variety of sensors and actuators.
Sensor Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2005
Keywords: Sensors; Polymers; Humidity
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