Inkjet and microcontact printing of functional materials on foil for the fabrication of pixel-like capacitive vapor microsensors
The work presented demonstrates the utilization of micro-contact printing of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of gold nanoparticles (NPs) to pattern the porous thin metallic film composing the top electrode of an ultra-fast capacitive relative humidity sensor based on miniaturized parallel-plates electrodes. The rest of the device, which occupies an area of only 0.0314 mm(2), is fabricated by inkjet printing stacked individual drops of functional materials, namely gold NPs for the bottom electrode and a polymeric humidity sensing layer, on a polymeric foil. Compared to other printing methods, the use of microcontact printing to pattern the top electrode enables the additive transfer of a solvent-free metallic layer that does not interact chemically with the sensing layer, permitting the thinning of the latter without risk of short-circuits between electrodes, and broadening the range of usable sensing materials for detection of other gases. Thinning the sensing layer yields to ultra-fast response devices with high values of capacitance and sensitivity per surface area. The fabrication process is compatible with low heat-resistant polymeric substrates and scalable to large-area and large-scale fabrication, foreseeing the development of low-cost vapor sensing sheets with high space-time resolution, where every sensor would correspond to a pixel of a large array. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.