Recent advances in wearable computing ask for bendable and conformable electronic circuits and sensors, allowing an easy integration into everyday life objects. Here, we present a novel flexible tilt sensor on plastic using conductive microspheres as gravity sensitive pendulum. The sensor provides a digital output of the measurement signal without the need for any additional electronics (e.g., amplifiers) close to the sensing structure. The sensor is fabricated on a free-standing polyimide foil with SU-8 photoresist defining the cavity for the pendulum. The pendulum consists of freely movable conductive microspheres which, depending on the sense of gravity, connect different electric contacts patterned on the polyimide foil. We develop a model of the sensor and identify the amount of microspheres as one of the key parameters in the sensor design, which influences the performance of the sensor. The presented tilt sensor with eight contacts achieves an angular resolution of 22.5° with a hysteresis of 10° and less at a tilt of the sensor plane of 50°. Analysis of the microsphere movements reveals a response time of the sensor at ∼50 ms.
Fabrication, Modeling, and Evaluation of a Digital Output Tilt Sensor With Conductive Microspheres / Büthe, L; Vogt, C; Petti, L; Cantarella, G; Münzenrieder, N; Tröster, G. - In: IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL. - ISSN 1530-437X. - 17:12(2017), pp. 3635-3643. [10.1109/JSEN.2017.2697208]