Macromol. Mater. Eng.

UV-Printable and Flexible Humidity Sensors Based on Conducting/Insulating Semi-Interpenetrated Polymer Networks

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Humidity sensors are of great interest in many fields because humidity plays a crucial role in several processes. Nevertheless, their application is often limited by the expensive fabrication and the stiffness of the substrates usually employed. In this work, novel UV-curable and flexible humidity sensors based on semi-interpenetrated polymer networks are fabricated. They can be prepared either as self-standing sensors or applied on different bendable substrates. The fabrication consists of a simultaneous UV-curing of an insulating network (acrylic or epoxy) and photopolymerization of conducting polypyrrole (PPy). The detection mechanism involves proton transfer on the PPy chains that can be macroscopically observed by electrical impedance variations. These devices show promising humidity-sensing properties from 20 to 97% of relative humidity with a maximum response of about 180%. The dynamic sensing investigation proves that the recovery process can be tailored playing on the glass transition temperature and wettability of the films. The remarkable sensing capabilities of these sensors make them a valid alternative in many applications where printability and flexibility are required along with simple fabrication method consisting of one-step synthesis.