Thermoelectric Polymer Aerogels for Pressure–Temperature Sensing Applications


The unrivaled capability of sensors to respond to physical, chemical and biological stimuli from our surroundings and transform them into communicable data has made them key components of emerging sophisticated technologies. Even though, depending on their application, sensor reading and fabrication can get quite intricate, especially where several types of sensors are involved. Luckily, the latter shortcoming can be satisfied by creating advanced functional materials that have the ability to react to multiple stimuli. Currently, several techniques are feasible for resolving this issue but this work focuses on the most eye-catching method: conducting aerogels. It is known that conducting polymers such as PEDOT:PSS upon dispersion in water, can form aerogels upon freeze drying.  Previous studies have demonstrated dual parameter sensors with this material. Unfortunately, the pressure/temperature sensing operation of such devices has been seen to suffer from a significant cross-talk, which is related to the inherent charge transport mechanism in the conducting aerogels.

A team of researchers led by Professor Xavier Crispin at Linköping University in Sweden developed a dual-parameter sensors based on thermoelectric polymer aerogels with fully decoupled temperature and pressure sensing capability. They hoped that their work would develop a strategy on how to fully decouple temperature and pressure readings, in a dual-parameter sensor based on thermoelectric polymer aerogels. Their work is now published in the research journal, Advanced Functional Materials.

The research methods employed by the researchers involved fine tuning the transport properties of the conducting aerogels with exposure to the vapor of high boiling point dimethylsulfoxide polar solvent. The team also employed thermoelectric polymer aerogels that had been prepared by freeze drying the water dispersion of three organic materials: PEDOT: PSS, nano-fibrillated cellulose, and glycidoxypropyl trimethoxysilane.

The authors observed that post treatment with the dimethylsulfoxide polar solvent vapor enhanced the pressure sensitivity by two orders of magnitude, and led to an absence of cross-talk in the dual-parameter sensors. Additionally, it was seen that the aerogels made of PEDOT: PSS displayed semiconductor properties lying at the transition between insulator and semimetal due to exposure to the polar solvent vapor. Most important, the team noted that due to temperature-independence charge transport nature of the dimethylsulfoxide-treated PEDOT-based aerogel, a decoupled pressure and temperature sensing could be achieved without crosstalk in the dual-parameter sensor devices.

The optimized dual-parameter sensors developed by Shaobo Han and colleagues in the study can potentially be utilized in various electronic-skin applications.

PNG aerogels – PEDOT: PSS, nano-fibrillated cellulose, and glycidoxypropyl trimethoxysilane based aerogels.

PEDOT: PSS – poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene): poly (styrene sulfonate)

Thermoelectric Polymer Aerogels for Pressure–Temperature Sensing Applications. Advances in Engineering

About the author

Xavier Crispin obtained his PhD degree at the University of Mons in the group of Prof. J.L. Brédas in 2000. His research interest was on quantum chemical models for the interaction between small organic molecules and metal surfaces. He then received an individual Marcie-Curie Fellowship and became a postdoctoral fellow at Linköping University with Prof. W.R. Salaneck. He has been trained to become a spectroscopist using various photoelectron spectroscopy techniques to characterize organic semiconductors and their interaction with electrodes. In 2004, Xavier became Associate Professor in the group of Prof. M. Berggren in the Norrköping Campus, Linköping University.

His main research activities have been on organic transistors and other organic electronic devices. In 2012, he was awarded the Tage Erlander Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and became a grantee of the European Research Council (ERC-starting grant) to further develop research activities in organic thermoelectrics. In 2013, he became Professor in Organic Electronics and his leading the activities on solid-state electronic and energy devices based on conducting polymers. In 2014, he was awarded the Göran Gustafsson prize. He is now leading a group of 25 researchers investigating new Organic Energy Materials, including charge storage, fuel cells, thermoelectrics.

About the author

Simone Fabiano received his MSc in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Catania (2008), and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Palermo (2012). During his PhD, he was a visiting scholar at the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials of the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). From 2012 to 2016, he worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the group of Prof. Magnus Berggren at Linköping University. In 2016, he joined the group of Prof. Tobin J. Marks at Northwestern University (Evanston, USA) as a Marie Curie Fellow and a VINNEMER Fellow. He is now an assistant professor at Linköping University, leading the group of Organic Nanoelectronics.

His research interests focus on the design and development of conjugated polymers for energy harvesting/storage applications, electrochemical transistors as well as ferroelectric materials for memory applications.

About the author

Shaobo Han received his B.Sc. (2012) and M.Sc. (2015) in Polymer Materials and Engineering, and Polymer Chemistry and Physics respectively, from Qingdao University of Science and Technology. During his Master period, he was working in Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences as a Joint-Supervision student, in group of Prof. Guangming Chen. His research was about organic composites and their thermoelectric properties. He is now a Ph.D. student in Prof. Xavier Crispin’s group at Linköping University. His research interest is on cellulose-based thermoelectric aerogels and their applications.


Shaobo Han, Fei Jiao, Zia Ullah Khan, Jesper Edberg, Simone Fabiano, Xavier Crispin. Thermoelectric Polymer Aerogels for Pressure–Temperature Sensing Applications. Adv. Funct. Mater. 2017, volume 27, 1703549


Go To Advanced Functional Materials 

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