Ionic polymer metal composite-based microfluidic flow sensor for bio-MEMS applications

P. Motreuil-Ragot, G. Turcan, B. de Wagenaar, A. Hunt, P. M. Sarro, M. Mastrangeli

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Sensing flow rates in structured microenvironments like lab-on-chip (LOC) and organ-on-chip (OoC) is crucial to assess important parameters such as transport of media and molecules of interest. So far, these micro-electromechanical systems for biology (bio-MEMS) mostly rely on flow sensing systems based on thermal sensors. However, thermal flow sensing has limitations, since the measurement principle, which is based on generation of heat, can negatively affect the biological system by increasing the fluid temperature above physiological conditions. To overcome this issue, we propose a novel electro-mechanical flow sensor centered around the deformation of a cantilever made of a thin and biocompatible ionic electroactive polymer. The polymer, called ionic polymer metal composite (IPMC), is doped with ions naturally present in most cell media for LOC and OoC devices. Unlike already existing cantilever-based systems which rely on piezo sensitive materials, our IPMC-based flow sensor shows durability in wet environment. We were able to successfully measure pulsatile flow induced by pipetting with flowrate gradually increasing from 10μL/s to 40μL/s. The proposed flow sensor shows good sensing capabilities (4.78 mV/(μL/s)) with a linear behavior in the studied range. This work sets a milestone for using flexible, electroactive materials for sensing applications in delicate biological microenvironments.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2022 IEEE Sensors
Place of PublicationPiscataway
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-6654-8464-0
ISBN (Print)978-1-6654-8465-7
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event2022 IEEE Sensors - Dallas, United States
Duration: 30 Oct 20222 Nov 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings of IEEE Sensors
ISSN (Print)1930-0395
ISSN (Electronic)2168-9229


Conference2022 IEEE Sensors
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Flow sensor
  • Ionic polymer metal composites
  • microfluidics
  • stereolithography

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