Paradigm change in hydrogel sensor manufacturing: from recipe-driven to specification-driven process optimization
- 1Institute of Electromechanical and Electronic Design, Dresden University of Technology, 01062 Dresden, Germany
- 2Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden, Hohe Str. 6, 01069 Dresden, Germany
- 3Solid-State Electronics Laboratory, Dresden University of Technology, 01062 Dresden, Germany
Abstract. The volume production of industrial hydrogel sensors lacks a quality-assuring manufacturing technique for thin polymer films with reproducible properties. Overcoming this problem requires a paradigm change from the current recipe-driven manufacturing process to a specification-driven one. This requires techniques to measure quality-determining hydrogel film properties as well as tools and methods for the control and optimization of the manufacturing process. In this paper we present an approach that comprehensively addresses these issues. The influence of process parameters on the hydrogel film properties and the resulting sensor characteristics have been assessed by means of batch manufacturing tests and the application of several measurement techniques. Based on these investigations, we present novel methods and a tool for the optimization of the cross-linking process step, with the latter being crucial for the sensor sensitivity. Our approach is applicable to various sensor designs with different hydrogels. It has been successfully tested with a sensor solution for surface technology based on PVA/PAA hydrogel as sensing layer and a piezoelectric thickness shear resonator as transducer. Finally, unresolved issues regarding the measurement of hydrogel film parameters are outlined for future research.