Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemical sensor on a chip created to test chemical composition of liquids

Date:
June 11, 2014
Source:
Vienna University of Technology
Summary:
A tiny laser and a corresponding light detector has been developed in one production process, on a single chip. The light is transported from the laser to the detector on a specially designed waveguide. That way, the chip can measure the chemical composition of the liquid in which it is submerged.

Just a drop is enough to test the chemical composition.
Credit: Image courtesy of Vienna University of Technology

Using miniaturized laser technology, a tiny sensor has been built at the Vienna University of Technology which can test the chemical composition of liquids.

They are invisible, but perfectly suited for analyzing liquids and gases; infrared laser beams are absorbed differently by different molecules. This effect can for instance be used to measure the oxygen concentration in blood. At the Vienna University of Technology, this technique has now been miniaturized and implemented in the prototype for a new kind of sensor.

Specially designed quantum cascade lasers and light detectors are created by the same production process. The gap between laser and detector is only 50 micrometres. It is bridged by a plasmonic waveguide made of gold and silicon nitride. This new approach allows for the simple and cheap production of tiny sensors for many different applications.

Laser and Detector Simple solid-state lasers, such as the well-known red ruby laser, consist of only one material. Quantum cascade lasers, on the other hand, are made of a perfectly optimized layer system of different materials. That way, the properties such as the wavelength of the laser can be tuned. When a voltage is applied to the layer structure, the laser starts to emit light. But the structure can also work the other way around; when it is irradiated with light, an electric signal is created.

Now a method has been developed to create a laser and a detector at the same time, on one single chip, in such a way that the wavelength of the laser perfectly matches the wavelength to which the detector is sensitive. This bifunctional material was created atomic layer for atomic layer at the center for micro- and nanostructures at the Vienna University of Technology. "As both parts are created in one step, laser and detector do not have to be adjusted. They are already perfectly aligned," says Benedikt Schwarz.

Leading the Light to the Detector

In conventional systems, the laser light has to be transmitted to the detector using carefully placed lenses. Alternatively, optical fibres can be used, but they usually transport all the light inside, without letting it interact with the environment, and therefore they cannot be used as sensors.

In the new element created at the Vienna University of Technology, the optical connection between quantum cascade laser and detector works in a completely different way. It is a plasmonic waveguide, made of gold and silicon oxide. "The light interacts with the electrons in the metal in a very special way, so that the light is guided outside the gold surface," says Benedikt Schwarz. "That is why the light can be absorbed by the molecules on its way between laser and detector."

The sensor chip can be submerged in a liquid. By measuring the decrease of the detected light intensity due to the presence of light absorbing molecules, the composition of the liquid can be determined. The sensor was tested with a mixture of water and alcohol. The water concentration can be measured with an accuracy of 0.06%.

As the wavelength can be influenced by changing the design of the layered structure, this sensor concept can be applied to a wide variety of molecules such as carbohydrates or proteins, for many different applications in chemical, biological or medical analytics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Vienna University of Technology. The original article was written by Florian Aigner. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Benedikt Schwarz, Peter Reininger, Daniela Ristanić, Hermann Detz, Aaron Maxwell Andrews, Werner Schrenk, Gottfried Strasser. Monolithically integrated mid-infrared lab-on-a-chip using plasmonics and quantum cascade structures. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5085

Cite This Page:

Vienna University of Technology. "Chemical sensor on a chip created to test chemical composition of liquids." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140611102157.htm>.
Vienna University of Technology. (2014, June 11). Chemical sensor on a chip created to test chemical composition of liquids. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140611102157.htm
Vienna University of Technology. "Chemical sensor on a chip created to test chemical composition of liquids." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140611102157.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins