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Gas sensor chip paves the way to autonomous 'e-nose'

Date:
June 9, 2010
Source:
Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC)
Summary:
Researchers have developed very sensitive integrated sensing elements for gas detection. The polymer-coated microbridges in high-density arrays can detect ppm-level concentrations of vapors using on-chip integrated read-out techniques.

Closely-packed array of individually vibrated microbridge resonators can be used for separation of gases upon application of specific coatings.
Credit: Image courtesy of Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC)

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Wireless sensor nodes that can chemically detect gaseous compounds are rapidly gaining interest from markets such as food monitoring, healthcare and safety. One of the main gas sensing approaches in uncontrolled environments is the identification of vapors ("smells") using multiple sensing elements ("receptors"), in a system that is often referred to as an "electronic nose" or "e-nose." An accurate e-nose requires small, integrated, low-power detectors with individually tuned chemical coatings. Current solutions, like chemi-resistors or quartz crystals are however not scalable or power-efficient enough to build low-power small form factor e-noses.

Imec and Holst Centre have developed a new generation of microbridges with embedded individual piezoelectric "shakers" in a high-density array with very high fabrication yield. The novel design allows for rapid coating of a range of absorbents on individual microbridges using commercial inkjet printing technology. The suspended structures vibrate individually, and changes in their modes of vibration (resonances) are monitored as an indication of vapor absorption in their coatings. Due to the very high length-to-thickness ratio of the microbridges, imec and Holst Centre's novel gas sensor chip has a high sensitivity to low-concentration vapors. Moreover, by implementing integrated piezoelectric read-out schemes, ultra-low power operation could be demonstrated.

Current work is ongoing to integrate the structures with low-power analog read-out circuits and to demonstrate simultaneous measurements from multiple structures. This truly low-power miniaturized implementation of an e-nose technology can be used in current applications such as wine and cheese monitoring, but could in the future also help sniff-out human conditions such as asthma, lung cancer, and kidney diseases.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC). "Gas sensor chip paves the way to autonomous 'e-nose'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100609094140.htm>.
Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC). (2010, June 9). Gas sensor chip paves the way to autonomous 'e-nose'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100609094140.htm
Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC). "Gas sensor chip paves the way to autonomous 'e-nose'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100609094140.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

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