Multifunctional Flexible Laser-Scribed Graphene Sensors for Resilient and Sustainable Electronics

  • Altynay Kaidarova

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is driven by cyber-physical systems, in which sensors link the real and virtual worlds. A global explosion of physical sensors seamlessly connected to networks is expected to produce trillions of sensors annually. To accommodate sustainable sensor production, it is crucial to minimize the consumption of raw materials, the complexity of fabrication, and waste discharge while improving sensor performance and wearability. Graphene has emerged as an excellent candidate material for its electrical and mechanical characteristics; however, its economic impact has been hindered by complex and energy-intensive processes. Meanwhile, printed electronics offer a compelling range of merits for scalable, high-yield, low-cost manufacturing of graphene. Among them, the one-step laser scribing process has enabled a simultaneous formation and patterning of porous graphene in a solid-state and opened new perspectives for versatile and widely tunable physical sensing platforms. This dissertation introduces flexible, lightweight, and robust Laser-Scribed Graphene sensor solutions for detecting various physical parameters, such as strain, flow, deflection, force, pressure, temperature, conductivity, and magnetic field. Multifunctionality was obtained by exploiting the direct laser scribing process combined with the flexible nature of polyimide and the piezoresistivity of porous graphene. The outstanding properties of LSG, such as low cytotoxicity, biocompatibility, corrosion resistance, and ability to function under extreme pressure and temperature conditions, allowed targeting diverse emerging applications. As a wearable device in healthcare, the LSG sensor was utilized to monitor motions involving joint bandings, such as finger folding, knee-related movements, microsleep detection, heart rate monitoring, and plantar pressure measurements. The marine ecosystem was used as an illustrative sensor application to cope with harsh environments. To this end, the sensor measured the velocity of underwater currents, pressure, salinity, and temperature while monitoring the movement of marine animals. The sensitivity to the magnetic field remained stable up to 400 °C, making the LSG sensor a viable option for high-temperature applications. In robotics, the LSG sensor was developed for velocity profile monitoring of drones and as a soft tactile sensor. The study provides insights into methods of improving sensor performance, opportunities, and challenges facing a tangible realization of LSG physical sensors.
Date of AwardApr 2022
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering
SupervisorJurgen Kosel (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Graphene
  • Laser-scribed
  • sensors
  • Multifunctional
  • Flexible
  • physical

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