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Special Issue "State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017"

A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "State-of-the-Art Sensors Technologies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 May 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Stefano Mariani
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile e Ambientale, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza L. da Vinci 32, 20133 Milano, Italy
Interests: MEMS; structural sensors; Kalman filtering
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue is intended to provide an up-to-date and comprehensive view on the state-of-the-art of sensor science and technology in Italy.

The covered topics will span from sensing devices and principles (including chemical, physical, biological, and optical sensors), to sensor technologies (including micro and nano fabrication, film and printed technologies), and from sensor systems (including sensor electronics, energy harvesting, sensor networks, and the Internet of Things), to applications in different scenarios (including industrial, automotive, environmental, food and agriculture, biomedical, and other fields).

Prof. Dr. Stefano Mariani
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sensors is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of Frequency Stability and Thermoelastic Effects for Slotted Tuning Fork MEMS Resonators
Sensors 2018, 18(7), 2157; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18072157 - 04 Jul 2018
Abstract
MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) resonators are attracting increasing interest because of their smaller size and better integrability as opposed to their quartz counterparts. However, thermal drift of the natural frequency of silicon structures is one of the main issues that has hindered the development [...] Read more.
MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) resonators are attracting increasing interest because of their smaller size and better integrability as opposed to their quartz counterparts. However, thermal drift of the natural frequency of silicon structures is one of the main issues that has hindered the development of MEMS resonators. Extensive investigations have addressed both the fabrication process (e.g., introducing heavy doping of the silicon) and the mechanical design (e.g., exploiting proper orientation of the device, slots, nonlinearities). In this work, starting from experimental data published in the literature, we show that a careful design can help reduce the thermal drift even when slots are inserted in the devices in order to decrease thermoelastic losses. A custom numerical code able to predict the dynamic behavior of MEMS resonators for different materials, orientations and doping levels is coupled with an evolutionary optimization algorithm and the possibility to find an optimal mechanical design is demonstrated on a tuning-fork resonator. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Open AccessArticle
Nordic Walking Performance Analysis with an Integrated Monitoring System
Sensors 2018, 18(5), 1505; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18051505 - 10 May 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
There is a growing interest in Nordic walking both from the fitness and medical point of views due to its possible therapeutic applications. The proper execution of the technique is an essential requirement to maximize the benefits of this practice. This is the [...] Read more.
There is a growing interest in Nordic walking both from the fitness and medical point of views due to its possible therapeutic applications. The proper execution of the technique is an essential requirement to maximize the benefits of this practice. This is the reason why a monitoring system for outdoor Nordic walking activity was developed. Using data obtained from synchronized sensors, it is possible to have a complete overview of the users’ movements. The system described in this paper is able to measure: the pole angle during the pushing phase, the arms cycle frequency and synchronization and the pushing force applied to the ground. Furthermore, data from a GPS module give an image of the environment where the activity session takes place, in terms of the distance, slope, as well as the ground typology. A heart rate sensor is used to monitor the effort of the user through his/her Beats Per Minute (BPM). In this work, the developed monitoring system is presented, explaining how to use the gathered data to obtain the main feedback parameters for Nordic walking performance analysis. The comparison between left and right arm measurements allowed validating the system as a tool for technique evaluation. Finally, a procedure to estimate the peak pushing force from acceleration measurements is proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Open AccessArticle
Study and Development of a Fluorescence Based Sensor System for Monitoring Oxygen in Wine Production: The WOW Project
Sensors 2018, 18(4), 1130; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18041130 - 07 Apr 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
The importance of oxygen in the winemaking process is widely known, as it affects the chemical aspects and therefore the organoleptic characteristics of the final product. Hence, it is evident the usefulness of a continuous and real-time measurements of the levels of oxygen [...] Read more.
The importance of oxygen in the winemaking process is widely known, as it affects the chemical aspects and therefore the organoleptic characteristics of the final product. Hence, it is evident the usefulness of a continuous and real-time measurements of the levels of oxygen in the various stages of the winemaking process, both for monitoring and for control. The WOW project (Deployment of WSAN technology for monitoring Oxygen in Wine products) has focused on the design and the development of an innovative device for monitoring the oxygen levels in wine. This system is based on the use of an optical fiber to measure the luminescent lifetime variation of a reference metal/porphyrin complex, which decays in presence of oxygen. The developed technology results in a high sensitivity and low cost sensor head that can be employed for measuring the dissolved oxygen levels at several points inside a wine fermentation or aging tank. This system can be complemented with dynamic modeling techniques to provide predictive behavior of the nutrient evolution in space and time given few sampled measuring points, for both process monitoring and control purposes. The experimental validation of the technology has been first performed in a controlled laboratory setup to attain calibration and study sensitivity with respect to different photo-luminescent compounds and alcoholic or non-alcoholic solutions, and then in an actual case study during a measurement campaign at a renown Italian winery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Open AccessArticle
Arc-Induced Long Period Gratings from Standard to Polarization-Maintaining and Photonic Crystal Fibers
Sensors 2018, 18(3), 918; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18030918 - 20 Mar 2018
Cited by 12
Abstract
In this work, we report about our recent results concerning the fabrication of Long Period Grating (LPG) sensors in several optical fibers, through the Electric Arc Discharge (EAD) technique. In particular, the following silica fibers with both different dopants and geometrical structures are [...] Read more.
In this work, we report about our recent results concerning the fabrication of Long Period Grating (LPG) sensors in several optical fibers, through the Electric Arc Discharge (EAD) technique. In particular, the following silica fibers with both different dopants and geometrical structures are considered: standard Ge-doped, photosensitive B/Ge codoped, P-doped, pure-silica core with F-doped cladding, Panda type Polarization-maintaining, and Hollow core Photonic crystal fiber. An adaptive platform was developed and the appropriate “recipe” was identified for each fiber, in terms of both arc discharge parameters and setup arrangement, for manufacturing LPGs with strong and narrow attenuation bands, low insertion losses, and short length. As the fabricated devices have appealing features from the application point of view, the sensitivity characteristics towards changes in different external perturbations (i.e., surrounding refractive index, temperature, and strain) are investigated and compared, highlighting the effects of different fiber composition and structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Open AccessArticle
Spectral Optical Readout of Rectangular–Miniature Hollow Glass Tubing for Refractive Index Sensing
Sensors 2018, 18(2), 603; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18020603 - 16 Feb 2018
Abstract
For answering the growing demand of innovative micro-fluidic devices able to measure the refractive index of samples in extremely low volumes, this paper presents an overview of the performances of a micro-opto-fluidic sensing platform that employs rectangular, miniature hollow glass tubings. The operating [...] Read more.
For answering the growing demand of innovative micro-fluidic devices able to measure the refractive index of samples in extremely low volumes, this paper presents an overview of the performances of a micro-opto-fluidic sensing platform that employs rectangular, miniature hollow glass tubings. The operating principle is described by showing the analytical model of the tubing, obtained as superposition of different optical cavities, and the optical readout method based on spectral reflectivity detection. We have analyzed, in particular, the theoretical and experimental optical features of rectangular tubings with asymmetrical geometry, thus with channel depth larger than the thickness of the glass walls, though all of them in the range of a few tens of micrometers. The origins of the complex line-shape of the spectral response in reflection, due to the different cavities formed by the tubing flat walls and channel, have been investigated using a Fourier transform analysis. The implemented instrumental configuration, based on standard telecom fiberoptic components and a semiconductor broadband optical source emitting in the near infrared wavelength region centered at 1.55 µm, has allowed acquisition of reflectivity spectra for experimental verification of the expected theoretical behavior. We have achieved detection of refractive index variations related to the change of concentration of glucose-water solutions flowing through the tubing by monitoring the spectral shift of the optical resonances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Open AccessArticle
A Novel Differential Time-of-Arrival Estimation Technique for Impact Localization on Carbon Fiber Laminate Sheets
Sensors 2017, 17(10), 2270; https://doi.org/10.3390/s17102270 - 03 Oct 2017
Cited by 6
Abstract
Composite material structures are commonly used in many industrial sectors (aerospace, automotive, transportation), and can operate in harsh environments where impacts with other parts or debris may cause critical safety and functionality issues. This work presents a method for improving the accuracy of [...] Read more.
Composite material structures are commonly used in many industrial sectors (aerospace, automotive, transportation), and can operate in harsh environments where impacts with other parts or debris may cause critical safety and functionality issues. This work presents a method for improving the accuracy of impact position determination using acoustic source triangulation schemes based on the data collected by piezoelectric sensors attached to the structure. A novel approach is used to estimate the Differential Time-of-Arrival (DToA) between the impact response signals collected by a triplet of sensors, overcoming the limitations of classical methods that rely on amplitude thresholds calibrated for a specific sensor type. An experimental evaluation of the proposed technique was performed with specially made circular piezopolymer (PVDF) sensors designed for Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) applications, and compared with commercial piezoelectric SHM sensors of similar dimensions. Test impacts at low energies from 35 mJ to 600 mJ were generated in a laboratory by free-falling metal spheres on a 500 mm × 500 mm × 1.25 mm quasi-isotropic Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) laminate plate. From the analysis of many impact signals, the resulting localization error was improved for all types of sensors and, in particular, for the circular PVDF sensor an average error of 20.3 mm and a standard deviation of 8.9 mm was obtained. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Smart Portable Devices Suitable for Cultural Heritage: A Review
Sensors 2018, 18(8), 2434; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18082434 - 26 Jul 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
This article reviews recent portable sensor technologies to apply in the Cultural Heritage (CH) fields. The review has been prepared in the form of a retrospective description of the sensor’s history and technological evolution, having: new nanomaterials for transducers, miniaturized, portable and integrated [...] Read more.
This article reviews recent portable sensor technologies to apply in the Cultural Heritage (CH) fields. The review has been prepared in the form of a retrospective description of the sensor’s history and technological evolution, having: new nanomaterials for transducers, miniaturized, portable and integrated sensors, the wireless transmission of the analytical signals, ICT_Information Communication Technology and IoT_Internet of Things to apply to the cultural heritage field. In addition, a new trend of movable tattoo sensors devices is discussed, referred to in situ analysis, which is especially important when scientists are in the presence of un-movable and un-tangible Cultural Heritage and Art Work objects. The new proposed portable contact sensors (directly applied to art work objects and surfaces) are non-invasive and non-destructive to the different materials and surfaces of which cultural heritage is composed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Open AccessReview
Porphyrin-Functionalized Zinc Oxide Nanostructures for Sensor Applications
Sensors 2018, 18(7), 2279; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18072279 - 14 Jul 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Hybrid materials made of wide band gap semiconductors and dye molecules are largely studied mainly for photovoltaic applications. However, these materials also show interesting chemical sensitivity. Zinc oxides (ZnO) and porphyrins are good examples of a metal oxide semiconductor and a dye molecule [...] Read more.
Hybrid materials made of wide band gap semiconductors and dye molecules are largely studied mainly for photovoltaic applications. However, these materials also show interesting chemical sensitivity. Zinc oxides (ZnO) and porphyrins are good examples of a metal oxide semiconductor and a dye molecule that give rise to a hybrid material with such interesting properties. ZnO has been studied for sensors, optoelectronics, electronic devices, photo-anodes for dye-sensitized solar cells, and for mechanical energy harvesting. Porphyrins, on the other side, can be synthesized in order to mimic their roles in living systems such as oxygen transport and charge transfer for catalytic processes in animals and photosynthesis in plants. This paper provides a review of the chemical sensing properties of porphyrin-capped ZnO nanostructures. The methodologies to functionalize the ZnO surface with porphyrins are illustrated with emphasis on the relationships between the material preparation and its sensing properties. The development of sensors is described through the application of the hybrid materials to different transducers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Open AccessReview
Comparison of Tagging Technologies for Safeguards of Copper Canisters for Nuclear Spent Fuel
Sensors 2018, 18(4), 929; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18040929 - 21 Mar 2018
Abstract
Several countries are planning to store nuclear spent fuel in long term geological repositories, preserved by copper canisters with an iron insert. This new approach involves many challenging problems and one is to satisfy safeguards requirements: the Continuity of Knowledge (CoK) of the [...] Read more.
Several countries are planning to store nuclear spent fuel in long term geological repositories, preserved by copper canisters with an iron insert. This new approach involves many challenging problems and one is to satisfy safeguards requirements: the Continuity of Knowledge (CoK) of the fuel must be kept from the encapsulation plant up to the final repository. To date, no measurement system has been suggested for a unique identification and authentication. Following the list of the most important safeguards, safety and security requirements for copper canisters identification and authentication, a review of conventional tagging technologies and measurement systems for nuclear items is reported in this paper. The aim of this study is to verify to what extent each technology could be potentially used for keeping the CoK of copper canisters. Several tagging methods are briefly described and compared, discussing advantages and disadvantages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Open AccessReview
Trends Supporting the In-Field Use of Wearable Inertial Sensors for Sport Performance Evaluation: A Systematic Review
Sensors 2018, 18(3), 873; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18030873 - 15 Mar 2018
Cited by 29
Abstract
Recent technological developments have led to the production of inexpensive, non-invasive, miniature magneto-inertial sensors, ideal for obtaining sport performance measures during training or competition. This systematic review evaluates current evidence and the future potential of their use in sport performance evaluation. Articles published [...] Read more.
Recent technological developments have led to the production of inexpensive, non-invasive, miniature magneto-inertial sensors, ideal for obtaining sport performance measures during training or competition. This systematic review evaluates current evidence and the future potential of their use in sport performance evaluation. Articles published in English (April 2017) were searched in Web-of-Science, Scopus, Pubmed, and Sport-Discus databases. A keyword search of titles, abstracts and keywords which included studies using accelerometers, gyroscopes and/or magnetometers to analyse sport motor-tasks performed by athletes (excluding risk of injury, physical activity, and energy expenditure) resulted in 2040 papers. Papers and reference list screening led to the selection of 286 studies and 23 reviews. Information on sport, motor-tasks, participants, device characteristics, sensor position and fixing, experimental setting and performance indicators was extracted. The selected papers dealt with motor capacity assessment (51 papers), technique analysis (163), activity classification (19), and physical demands assessment (61). Focus was placed mainly on elite and sub-elite athletes (59%) performing their sport in-field during training (62%) and competition (7%). Measuring movement outdoors created opportunities in winter sports (8%), water sports (16%), team sports (25%), and other outdoor activities (27%). Indications on the reliability of sensor-based performance indicators are provided, together with critical considerations and future trends. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Open AccessReview
Wearable Intrinsically Soft, Stretchable, Flexible Devices for Memories and Computing
Sensors 2018, 18(2), 367; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18020367 - 27 Jan 2018
Cited by 14
Abstract
A recent trend in the development of high mass consumption electron devices is towards electronic textiles (e-textiles), smart wearable devices, smart clothes, and flexible or printable electronics. Intrinsically soft, stretchable, flexible, Wearable Memories and Computing devices (WMCs) bring us closer to sci-fi scenarios, [...] Read more.
A recent trend in the development of high mass consumption electron devices is towards electronic textiles (e-textiles), smart wearable devices, smart clothes, and flexible or printable electronics. Intrinsically soft, stretchable, flexible, Wearable Memories and Computing devices (WMCs) bring us closer to sci-fi scenarios, where future electronic systems are totally integrated in our everyday outfits and help us in achieving a higher comfort level, interacting for us with other digital devices such as smartphones and domotics, or with analog devices, such as our brain/peripheral nervous system. WMC will enable each of us to contribute to open and big data systems as individual nodes, providing real-time information about physical and environmental parameters (including air pollution monitoring, sound and light pollution, chemical or radioactive fallout alert, network availability, and so on). Furthermore, WMC could be directly connected to human brain and enable extremely fast operation and unprecedented interface complexity, directly mapping the continuous states available to biological systems. This review focuses on recent advances in nanotechnology and materials science and pays particular attention to any result and promising technology to enable intrinsically soft, stretchable, flexible WMC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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Other

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Open AccessObituary
In Memoriam: Paolo Cappa
Sensors 2017, 17(11), 2661; https://doi.org/10.3390/s17112661 - 18 Nov 2017
Abstract
Prof. Paolo Cappa passed away on 26 August 2016, at the age of 59, after a long and courageous fight against cancer. Paolo Cappa was a Professor in Mechanical and Thermal Measurements and Experimental Biomechanics in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering [...] Read more.
Prof. Paolo Cappa passed away on 26 August 2016, at the age of 59, after a long and courageous fight against cancer. Paolo Cappa was a Professor in Mechanical and Thermal Measurements and Experimental Biomechanics in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of Sapienza University of Rome, where he had also served as the Head of the Department, and a Research Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of New York University Tandon School of Engineering. During his intense, yet short, career, he made several significant scientific contributions within the discipline of Mechanical and Thermal Measurements, pioneering fundamental applications to Biomechanics. He co-founded the Motion Analysis and Robotics Laboratory (MARLab) within the Neurorehabilitation Division of IRCCS Pediatric Hospital “Bambino Gesu”, in Rome, to fuel transitional research from the laboratory to clinical practice. Through collaboration with neurologists and physiatrists at MARLab, Prof. Cappa led the development of a powerful array of novel mechanical solutions to wearable robotics for pediatric patients, addressing dramatic needs for children’s health and contributing to the training of an entire generation of Mechanical Engineering students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2017)
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