Switchable disposable passive RFID vapour sensors from inkjet printed electronic components integrated with PDMS as a stimulus responsive material
A route to cheap and disposable sensors for the chemical sensing market, with potential applications including monitoring of food spoilage, is reported herein. The sensor is the result of the direct integration of a stimuli-responsive material, poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS), with an electronic component. The printing and sintering of colloidal silver ink solutions onto PDMS was optimized to allow the printing of conductive silver feed loops, which are the active sensing component in antennas for passive (battery-free) Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. The response of these devices is related to the degree of swelling of the PDMS, which, in turn, has been shown to be correlated to the Hansen solubility parameters and the vapour pressures of the corresponding volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When exposed to solvent vapour the printed feed loop fractures, increasing resistance and ultimately breaking conductivity, leading to a change in the transmitted power and read range of the wireless device. Remarkably upon removal from the vapour, the fractured feed loops reassemble and become conductive again, making them switchable and “multi-use”. This work paves the way to a fully inkjet printed RFID substrate for vapour detection.