Colorimetric humidity sensor based on liquid composite materials for the monitoring of food and pharmaceuticals

Devon Bridgeman, Javier Corral, Ashley Quach, Xiaojun Xian, Erica Forzani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Using supported ionic-liquid membrane (SILM)-inspired methodologies, we have synthesized, characterized, and developed a humidity sensor by coating a liquid composite material onto a hygroscopic, porous substrate. Similar to pH paper, the sensor responds to the environment's relative humidity and changes color accordingly. The humidity indicator is prepared by casting a few microliters of low-toxicity reagents on a nontoxic substrate. The sensing material is a newly synthesized liquid composite that comprises a hygroscopic medium for environmental humidity capture and a color indicator that translates the humidity level into a distinct color change. Sodium borohydride was used to form a liquid composite medium, and DenimBlu30 dye was used as a redox indicator. The liquid composite medium provides a hygroscopic response to the relative humidity, and DenimBlu30 translates the chemical changes into a visual change from yellow to blue. The borate-redox dye-based humidity sensor was prepared, and then Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, and image analysis methods were used to characterize the chemical composition, optimize synthesis, and gain insight into the sensor reactivity. Test results indicated that this new sensing material can detect relative humidity in the range of 5-100% in an irreversible manner with good reproducibility and high accuracy. The sensor is a low-cost, highly sensitive, easy-to-use humidity indicator. More importantly, it can be easily packaged with products to monitor humidity levels in pharmaceutical and food packaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10785-10791
Number of pages7
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 9 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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