Article Summaries

Sensing Mechanical Deformation via Ionic Polymer Metal Composites: A Primer

Maurizio Porfiri


IPMCs were discovered about twenty five years ago and evidence about metalizing ionomer membranes dates even earlier. In this review, the author says, “I will not seek to cover the state of knowledge on IPMCs and touch on all of these questions. Instead, I will attempt to summarize some of the work that my group has conducted over the last decade on sensing, spanning physics-based modeling and engineering applications, primarily in the domain of energy harvesting.”

This text is from the article’s introduction. 

Fundamentals and Applications of Ion Migration Induced Polymer Sensor Detecting Bending, Pressure and Shear Force

Ximing He, Xiaoyong Fang, Bin Luo, Hu Liu, Changsheng Bian, and Zicai Zhu



Conventionally, ionic electro-active polymer sensors are composed of an ionic polymer material and two electrodes which form a sandwich structure. In this paper, the authors introduce their investigation on ionic polymer sensing properties in the three aspects: traditional ionic polymer bending, pressure and friction. The paper introduces some applications of flexible sensors based on various types of ionic polymer sensors.

This text is from the article.

Hand-Held Soil Moisture Meter Using Polymer Coated Sensor

Moupali Chakraborty, Ashish Malkani, and Karabi Biswas


This paper describes the development of a rechargeable battery-operated hand-held meter for fieldwork by using a polymethyl methacrylate coated sensor along with a suitable signal conditioning circuit. The thermo-gravimetric method has been utilized to obtain the actual moisture content of soil and calibrate it with respect to the voltage output of the meter. Because surrounding temperature and humidity are also useful atmospheric parameters used by weather stations, a DHT12 sensor has been integrated with this hand-held meter.

This summary includes text from introduction of the article.


The Evolution of Ionic Polymer Metal Composites Towards Greener Transducers

Giovanna Di Pasquale, Salvatore Graziani, Antonino Pollicino, and Carlo Trigona


The requirement of sustainable development will impose changes in all aspects of electronics production. In fact, the need to use greener materials will constrain the range of usable base-materials and reactants. Environmentally friendly production processes will require the use of low-energy and reduced resources. Finally, the reduction of production wastes and biodegradable electronics will reduce the environmental impact of electronics after their usable life. The need for human-oriented applications will require biocompatible, wearable, and flexible or stretchable electronics. This paper provides a description of the evolution of a class of polymeric materials as a candidate for realizing better performing and greener motion transducers.

This text is from the article’s introduction. 

Portable Multi-Sensor Air Quality Monitoring Platform for Personal Exposure Studies

Pelumi W. Oluwasanya, Abdullah Alzahrani, Varindra Kumar, Yarjan Abdul Samad, and Luigi G. Occhipinti


A compact sensor platform for personal exposure monitoring was presented. This includes a capacitive particulate matter sensor with an innovative feature of discrimination between PM2.5 and PM10 based on thermophoresis, together with an array of resistive chemical sensors for monitoring multiple polluting agents present in air. The work is an example of an integrated multi-functional system for air quality monitoring suitable for integration in portable devices to help individuals make healthier choices in their daily activities and habits. Device architecture, front-end readout electronics and preliminary measurements were reported as an example of integration of the different function block units and their working principles.

This text is from the conclusion of the article.

Human Body Communication: Channel Characterization Issues

Germán A. Álvarez-Botero, Yicely K. Hernández-Gómez, Camilo E. Telléz and Juan F. Coronel


Human Body Communication (HBC) is a promising wireless technology that uses the human body tissues as a signal propagation medium. In HBC, the information signal is coupled to the body through an electrostatic or magnetostatic field via electrodes and is captured in another part of the body using similar electrodes. HBC has lower power consumption than conventional radio frequency (RF) approaches, because it operates at lower frequencies, avoiding the body shadowing effects, complex and power hungry RF circuits and antennas. Different measurement devices such as signal generators, spectrum and network analyzers, oscilloscopes and battery-powered transceivers are usually employed to measure the HBC channel response. However, each of these instruments has its own characteristics which must be considered in order to obtain a reliable channel characterization.

This text is from the article.

An Affordable EMC Pre-Compliance Test Lab for Educational Purposes

Francisco Ferrero, Alberto López, Marta Valledor, and Juan Carlos Campo


Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) compliance testing is mandatory for most electronic products slated for sale throughout the world. Therefore, EMC should be one of the main objectives of designing any electronic product, at the same level as electrical, mechanical, or even software design. However, the training that students receive in relation to EMC is usually scarce, mainly because the specific equipment that this subject requires is rarely present in educational laboratories. This paper presents an affordable EMC pre-compliance test lab for educational purposes, together with lab activities related to four of the most important EMC topics. The aim is to raise the awareness of electronic engineering students, who are the future designers of electronics products, of the importance of considering EMC techniques from the beginning of the design process.

This text is from the article’s introduction.

A Low-Cost Data Acquisition System for Dynamic Structural Identification

Danilo de Santana Nunes, José Luis Vital de Brito, and Graciela Nora Doz


This work aims at the evaluation of an alternative data acquisition system to identify dynamics properties of structures, using low-cost devices with on-board micro-electro-mechanical systems accelerometers. The proposed acquisition system presented good results in the identification of natural frequencies of the structural models analyzed. It showed a maximum difference when compared to a professional accelerometer of 2.41%. In addition, for one of the models, by using two Arduino boards it was also possible to identify the mode shapes, with acceptable difference of 4.30% on natural frequencies, when compared to professional accelerometers. Models with frequency range between approximately 1.00 and 37.83 Hz were investigated and the results were considered promising.

This text is from the article’s introduction.



Basic Metrology - A Matter of Time

Richard Davis


If measuring devices are extensions of our senses, then increasing measurement accuracy can improve our knowledge of the universe. This month’s column is about some of the most accurate measurements known—time from atomic clocks—and how such measurements might be used to measure gravitational features of our Earth in finer detail.

This summary was provided by the author. 

Life After Graduation

Experiences with Polymers

Vincenzo Marletta


The interest in polymers as an alternative material for the development of next-generation electronics and sensors is continuously growing. A large scientific literature introducing applications in disparate fields including electronics, telecommunications, medicine, automotives, actuators, robotics and so on, has been produced in the last 20 years. The recent advancements in low power demanding electronics and efforts in developing smart textiles and wearable electronics have increased the interest in polymers because of their flexibility and the possibility to use them as conductors or semiconductors. Market forecasts also confirm a growing trend in the request for polymeric materials in the next years, substituting for traditional materials like paper, glass, and metals because of their lower cost and weight.

This summary includes text from the column

Future Trends in I&M - Polymers Role in Acoustic Wave Sensors for Environmental Sensing Applications and Beyond

N. Ramakrishnan and Mohammad Ali Mohammadzadeh Kashan

A note from Melanie Ooi: In this issue on polymer sensors, I am proud to introduce two guest columnists who are actively working on acoustic wave sensors. Narayanan Ramakrishnan is the recipient of the prestigious Asian Invention Excellence award from the 30th International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition which was held in May 2019. His invention was chosen from over 1000 different exhibits from more than 20 participating countries. He wrote this column with his research partner and former Ph.D. student Mohammad Kashan, who is currently working at Piezo Parts Co., Ltd. on the design and manufacture of quartz crystal microbalance sensors.

This text is from the introduction to the column.