In this work we report on the fabrication process for the development of a flexible piezopolymeric transducer for health monitoring applications, based on lead-free, piezoelectric zinc oxide (ZnO) thin films. All the selected materials are compatible with the space environment and were deposited by the RF magnetron sputtering technique at room temperature, in view of preserving the total flexibility of the structures, which is an important requirement to guarantee coupling with cylindrical fuel tanks whose integrity we want to monitor. The overall transducer architecture was made of a c-axis-oriented ZnO thin film coupled to a pair of flexible Polyimide foils coated with gold (Au) electrodes. The fabrication process started with the deposition of the bottom electrode on Polyimide foils. The ZnO thin film and the top electrode were then deposited onto the Au/Polyimide substrates. Both the electrodes and ZnO layer were properly patterned by wet-chemical etching and optical lithography. The assembly of the final structure was then obtained by gluing the upper and lower Polyimide foils with an epoxy resin capable of guaranteeing low outgassing levels, as well as adequate thermal and electrical insulation of the transducers. The piezoelectric behavior of the prototypes was confirmed and evaluated by measuring the mechanical displacement induced from the application of an external voltage.
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