Purdue University Graduate School

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posted on 2023-06-13, 12:46 authored by Sarath GopalakrishnanSarath Gopalakrishnan

Passive chipless wireless sensors have gained great attention in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) applications, inventory tracking, and structural health monitoring, as they offer a prospective low-cost, scalable alternative to the state-of-the-art active sensors. While the popularity and demand for chipless sensors are on the rise, their applications are limited to low-noise environments and their caliber as low-cost, scalable devices has not been explored to a successful degree in challenging domains, such as precision agriculture, healthcare, and food packaging. Size, cost of materials, and complexity of the manufacturing process are the main obstacles to progress in the large-scale production of chipless sensors for practical applications. 

Conventional manufacturing processes, such as photolithography, are costly, cumbersome, and time intensive. While additive manufacturing techniques, such as printing technologies, have circumvented some of these challenges, printing techniques require costly inks and complex post-processing steps, such as drying and sintering, which limit their large-scale utilization. To overcome these challenges, this dissertation focuses on investigating the possibility of utilizing laser processing of conventional metalized films and polymers to develop cost-effective chipless sensors. This Scalable Laser Assisted Manufacturing (SLAM) process offers a platform for large-scale roll-to-roll production of high-resolution sensors for precision agriculture, healthcare, and food packaging applications. 

In this pursuit, the first study explores combining the SLAM process with 3D printing to develop a miniaturized, biodegradable, chipless sensor for soil moisture monitoring. In the second study, the SLAM process is further explored in the development of metalized stickers for healthcare applications focusing on urine bag management and early risk detection of urinary tract infections. In the third study, the capability of the SLAM process to form moisture-sensitive metal nanoparticles as a co-product of metal patterning is harnessed to develop a chipless humidity sensor. The SLAM process is further expanded in the fourth study by functionalizing metalized films with stimuli-responsive polymers to achieve specificity in detecting unique biomarkers of food spoilage. The SLAM platform described in this work opens up new avenues toward processing metalized fabric for the future of wearable electronics and implementing multi-functional sensors for precision agriculture.



Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Rahim Rahimi

Additional Committee Member 2

Ali Shakouri

Additional Committee Member 3

Saeed Mohammadi

Additional Committee Member 4

Babak Ziaie

Additional Committee Member 5

Nithin Raghunathan