Nano Research

Article Title

Hydrophobic ionic liquid-in-polymer composites for ultrafast, linear response and highly sensitive humidity sensing


ionic liquid, flexible humidity sensing, ultrafast response, hydrophobic


Traditional ionic liquids are sensitive to humidity but with long response time and nonlinear response. Pure liquid-state ionic liquids are usually hard for dehydration which have ultralong response time for humidity sensing. The immobilization of ionic liquids provide a possible way for high performance humidity sensing. Hydrophobic materials and structures also promised faster response in humidity sensing, because of easier desorption of water. In this work, we prepared flexible humidity sensitive composites based on hydrophobic ionic liquid and polymer. The combination of hydrophobic ionic liquid with hydrophobic polymer realized linear response, high sensitivity with low hysteresis to humidity. By adjusting the ratio of ionic liquid, not only the impedance but also the hydrophobicity of composite could be modulated, which had a significant influence on the humidity sensing performance. The morphology and microstructure of the material also affected its interaction with water molecules. Due to the diverse processing methods of polymer, highly transparent film fabricated by spinning-coating and nanofibrous membrane fabricated by electrospinning could be prepared and exhibited different response time, which could be used for different application scenarios. Especially, the fibrous membrane made with electrospinning method showed an ultrafast response and could distinguish up to 120 Hz humidity change, due to its fibrous structure with high specific surface area. The humidity sensors with ultrafast, linear response and high sensitivity showed potential applications in human respiratory monitoring and flexible non-contact switch. To better show the multifunction of ionic liquid-polymer composite, as a proof of concept, we fabricated an integrated humidity sensitive color change device by utilizing lower ionic liquid content composite for sensing in the humidity sensing module and higher ionic liquid content composite as the electrolyte in the electrochromic module.


Tsinghua University Press