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On the design of capacitive sensors using flexible electrodes for multipurpose measurements

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8 Author(s)
Thibault, Pierre ; Centre de Recherches sur les Très Basses Températures, laboratoire associé à l''Université Joseph Fourier, CNRS, BP 166, 38042 Grenoble Cedex 9, France ; Diribarne, Pantxo ; Fournier, Thierry ; Perraud, Sylvain
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This article evaluates the potential of capacitive measurements using flexible electrodes to access various physical quantities. These electrodes are made of a thin metallic film, typical thickness 0.2 μm, evaporated on a plastic substrate. Their large flexibility enables them to be mounted in complex geometries such as curved surfaces. In the configuration of planar condensers, using a very sensitive commercial capacitive bridge and a three-terminal measurement method, several measurements are presented. A relative resolution of 10-8 for the thermal expansion of samples is obtained at low temperature in a differential configuration. The same technique adopted for pressure gauge measurements at low temperature led to a typical 0.1 Pa resolution over a dynamic range of 104Pa. In the configuration of interleaved electrodes, condensers have been used to measure wetting by either bulk liquid helium or by thin continuous helium films in a cylindrical pipe. Both experimental and numerical evidence is provided, showing that the close proximity of a reference ground potential significantly increases the relative sensitivity to fluid wetting. Further, interleaved electrodes can be used to access both the area that is covered by a liquid film but also to determine the thickness of this film, provided it is comparable to the periodicity of the electrode pattern.

Published in:

Review of Scientific Instruments  (Volume:78 ,  Issue: 4 )

Date of Publication:

Apr 2007

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