Novel Solid-State Humidity Sensor
NASAs novel ceramic dielectric material enables extremely high-sensitivity humidity sensing. The ceramic sensing element is robust, can be manufactured using printing processes, and exhibits fast response and recovery speeds with large capacitance and resistance response/change per relative humidity unit change across a wide range of humidity levels in a log-linear response. Preliminary test data conducted in a humidity test chamber show a log-linear measured response in capacitance from 5 nanofarads (at 30% relative humidity, room temperature) to 0.2 millifarads (at 90% relative humidity, room temperature). The inventors discovered the humidity sensing element technology during their efforts to develop next-generation energy storage materials and devices for NASA. The inventors were initially puzzled by large swings in capacitance observed over the course of any given day in one particular dielectric composition, and, ultimately, they were able to trace these unexpected changes in capacitance back to corresponding changes in ambient humidity, even those occurring from breathing and exhalation. The sensor element can be formed using a dielectric ink or paste formulation, also developed by NASA, via traditional screen printing or advanced ink jet, aerosol, or 3D printing methods. The printed sensor element can be very thin, on the order of microns in thickness, with a small footprint, one square centimeter or less.
electrical and electronics
Printable IoT sensor development platform
Advances in additive manufacturing have enabled development of printable electronic sensor elements that can be deposited onto flexible substrates. To benchmark performance of printed sensors against the state of the art, NASA developed a low power flexible sensor platform. The platform integrates the following key components and features: -Flexible substrate: DuPont Kapton allows bending around cylindrical surfaces as small as in diameter. -Embedded microcontroller: Cypress CY8C4248 LQI-BL583 Arm Cortex M0 processor with BLE wireless controller, max frequency 48 MHz. Supports low power modes of operation, capacitive sensing support, and a single-channel 12-bit AD converter. -Commercial sensor suite: Bosch BNO080 inertial sensor; Bosch BME280 humidity, pressure, and temperature sensor; AMS CCS811 air quality sensor (VOCs and CO2). -Prototyping area for custom-printed sensors: 1) thermistor, uses carbon-based PTC resistor paste DuPont2792; 2) capacitive humidity sensor using a NASA-developed dielectric ink. NASA researchers have used the platform to study performance of the printed capacitive humidity sensor. The 2x4 mm co-doped barium titanate sensing element is highly sensitive to water vapor and performs as an unobtrusive breathing monitor, sensitive to breath at distances of up to 20 cm. Average change of sensor capacitance at a distance of 7.5 cm was observed to be 6.23.5 pF.