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The goal of this work is to assert the utility of collagen and its denatured counterpart gelatin as cost-effective alternatives to existing sensing layers comprised of polymers. Rather than producing a material that will need to be discarded or recycled, collagen, as a by-product of the meat and leather industry, could be repurposed. This work examines the feasibility of using collagen as a sensing layer. Planar electrodes were patterned with lift-off process to work with the natural characteristics of gelatin by utilizing metal vapor deposition, spin coating, and photolithography. Characterization methods have also been optimized through the creation of specialized humidity chambers that isolate specific characteristics such as response time, accuracy, and hysteresis. Collagen-based sensors are found to have a sensitivity to moisture in the range of 0.065 /%. Diffusion characteristics were also analyzed with the diffusion coefficient found to be 2.5 × 10−5 cm2/s. Absorption and desorption times were found to be 20 seconds and 8 seconds, respectively. Hysteresis present in the data is attributed to temperature cross-sensitivity. Ultimately, the utility of collagen as a dielectric sensing material is, in part, due to its fibrous macrostructures as well its hydrophilic sites along the peptide chains. Gelatin was patterned between and below interdigitated copper electrodes and tested as a relative humidity sensor. This work shows that gelatin, which is inexpensive, widely available, and easy to process, can be an effective dielectric sensing polymer for capacitive-type relative humidity sensors.


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