All-soft, battery-free, and wireless chemical sensing platform based on liquid metal for liquid- and gas-phase VOC detection†
Lightweight, flexible, stretchable, and wireless sensing platforms have gained significant attention for personal healthcare and environmental monitoring applications. This paper introduces an all-soft (flexible and stretchable), battery-free, and wireless chemical microsystem using gallium-based liquid metal (eutectic gallium–indium alloy, EGaIn) and poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS), fabricated using an advanced liquid metal thin-line patterning technique based on soft lithography. Considering its flexible, stretchable, and lightweight characteristics, the proposed sensing platform is well suited for wearable sensing applications either on the skin or on clothing. Using the microfluidic sensing platform, detection of liquid-phase and gas-phase volatile organic compounds (VOC) is demonstrated using the same design, which gives an opportunity to have the sensor operate under different working conditions and environments. In the case of liquid-phase chemical sensing, the wireless sensing performance and microfluidic capacitance tunability for different dielectric liquids are evaluated using analytical, numerical, and experimental approaches. In the case of gas-phase chemical sensing, PDMS is used both as a substrate and a sensing material. The gas sensing performance is evaluated and compared to a silicon-based, solid-state gas sensor with a PDMS sensing film.