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Micromachines 2017, 8(2), 41; doi:10.3390/mi8020041

Design, Manufacture and Testing of Capacitive Pressure Sensors for Low-Pressure Measurement Ranges

1
MicroSystems Engineering Centre (MISEC), School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
2
School of Textiles & Design, Heriot-Watt University, Galashiels, TD7 4LF, UK
3
Queen’s Medical Research Institute, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH16 4TJ, UK
4
Institute for Integrated Micro & Nano Systems (IMNS), School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH9 3FF, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 December 2016 / Accepted: 25 January 2017 / Published: 1 February 2017
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Abstract

This article presents the design, manufacture and testing of a capacitive pressure sensor with a high, tunable performance to low compressive loads (<10 kPa) and a resolution of less than 0.5 kPa. Such a performance is required for the monitoring of treatment efficacy delivered by compression garments to treat or prevent medical conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, leg ulcers, varicose veins or hypertrophic scars. Current commercial sensors used in such medical applications have been found to be either impractical, costly or of insufficient resolution. A microstructured elastomer film of a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) blend with a tunable Young’s modulus was used as the force-sensing dielectric medium. The resulting 18 mm × 18 mm parallel-plate capacitive pressure sensor was characterised in the range of 0.8 to 6.5 kPa. The microstructuring of the surface morphology of the elastomer film combined with the tuning of the Young’s modulus of the PDMS blend is demonstrated to enhance the sensor performance achieving a 0.25 kPa pressure resolution and a 10 pF capacitive change under 6.5 kPa compressive load. The resulting sensor holds good potential for the targeted medical application. View Full-Text
Keywords: pressure sensor; capacitive sensing; polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS); tunable sensitivity. pressure sensor; capacitive sensing; polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS); tunable sensitivity.
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Mitrakos, V.; Macintyre, L.; Denison, F.C.; Hands, P.J.; Desmulliez, M.P. Design, Manufacture and Testing of Capacitive Pressure Sensors for Low-Pressure Measurement Ranges. Micromachines 2017, 8, 41.

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