Humidity Responsive Reflection Grating Made by Ultrafast Nanoimprinting of a Hydrogel Thin Film

Stefan Cesnik, Alberto Perrotta, Alessandro Cian, Massimo Tormen, Alexander Bergmann*, Anna Maria Coclite*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The response time of state-of-the-art humidity sensors is ≈8 s. A faster tracking of humidity change is especially required for health care devices. This research is focused on the direct nanostructuring of a humidity-sensitive polymer thin film and it is combined with an optical read-out method. The goal is to improve the response time by changing the surface-to-volume ratio of the thin film and to test a different measurement method compared to state-of-the-art sensors. Large and homogeneous nanostructured areas are fabricated by nanoimprint lithography on poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) thin films. Those thin films are made by initiated chemical vapor deposition (iCVD). To the author's knowledge, this is the first time nanoimprint lithography is applied on iCVD polymer thin films. With the imprinting process, a diffraction grating is developed in the visible wavelength regime. The optical and physicochemical behavior of the nanostructures is modeled with multi-physic simulations. After successful modeling and fabrication a first proof of concept shows that humidity dependency by using an optical detection of the first diffraction order peak is observable. The response time of the structured thin film results to be at least three times faster compared to commercial sensors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2200150
JournalMacromolecular Rapid Communications
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • humidity sensors
  • hydrogel thin films
  • nanoimprint lithography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science

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