Polymer-based flexible micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS) tactile sensors have been widely studied for a variety of applications, such as medical and robot fields. The small size and flexibility are of great advantage in terms of accurate measurement and safety. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is often used as the flexible structural material. However, the sensors are likely subject to large parasitic capacitance noise. The smaller dielectric constant leads to smaller influences of parasitic capacitance and a larger signal-to-noise ratio. In this study, the sensor underwent ultraviolet (UV) exposure, which changes Si-CH3 bonds in PDMS to Si-O, makes PDMS nanoporous, and leads to a low dielectric constant. In addition, we achieved further reduction of the dielectric constant of PDMS by washing it with an ethanol-toluene buffer solution after UV exposure. This simple but effective method can be readily applicable to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of PDMS-based flexible capacitive sensors. In this study, we propose reduction techniques for the dielectric constant of PDMS and applications for flexible capacitive force sensors.
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