This paper presents an extensive overview and a comparison of the most popular models used to make an analytic prediction of the thermal conductance of uncooled microbolometers. The concept of an uncooled microbolometer has existed for many decades, along with simple methods to determine the thermal conduction both under vacuum and at atmospheric conditions. However, recent advances and the maturation of the MEMS fabrication technology have sparked a renewed research interest in these devices, including a number of improvements in the analytic modelling of the thermoelectric interaction, notably also improvements in the prediction of the thermal conduction. A comparison is made between a number of recent techniques, adapted for either thin-film metal or semiconductor type detector materials, operating either at vacuum conditions or atmospheric pressure conditions, as well as adjustable pressure conditions. The approach followed in the work is to determine the various parameters by means of the proposed analytic methods, which is then compared to multiphysics FEM simulation results. This comparison provides essential information regarding the shortcomings of the traditional methods. Finally, the results are also compared with experimentally extracted results from manufactured devices. The last set of results offer insight into manufacturing deviation. It is shown that the traditional methods often suffer from a significant error, sometimes in the region of almost 40%, in the prediction of the thermal conductance, which can be largely removed by using the appropriate modified analytic model.
This paper describes the development and optimisation of a paper-based E. coli impedimetric biosensor for water quality monitoring. Impedimetric biosensing is advantageous because it is a highly sensitive, label-free, real-time method for the detection of biological species. An impedimetric biosensor measures the change in impedance caused by specific capture of a target on the sensor surface. Each biosensor consists of a pair of photo paper-based inkjet printed electrodes. An impedance analyser was used to measure the impedance at frequencies ranging from 1 kHz to 1 MHz at 1V.
The parameters that were investigated to achieve enhanced sensor performance were buffer type, antibody attachment method, measurement frequency, electrode layout, and conductive material. A 0.04M PBS (phosphate buffered saline) solution achieves better results compared to a less conductive 0.04M PB (potassium phosphate dibasic) solution. The direct adsorption of anti-E. coli antibodies onto the sensor surface yielded better results than attaching the sensor to a lateral flow test. The resistive component had a greater impact on the detected impedance, therefore an optimal frequency of 1 MHz was identified. Geometrical electrode designs that maximise the resistive change between the electrodes were utilised. Both lower cost silver and bio-compatible gold ink were validated as electrode materials. The impedance change generated by the selective capture of E. coli K-12, ranging in concentration from 103 to 107 colony forming units per millilitre (cfu/ml), showed a detection limit of 105 cfu/ml.
The infrared band is widely used in many applications to solve problems stretching over very diverse fields, ranging from medical applications like inflammation detection to military, security and safety applications employing thermal imaging in low light conditions. At the heart of these optoelectrical systems lies a sensor used to detect incident infrared radiation, and in the case of this work our focus is on uncooled microbolometers as thermal detectors. Microbolometer based thermal detectors are limited in sensitivity by various parameters, including the detector layout and design, operating temperature, air pressure and biasing that causes self heating. Traditional microbolometers use the entire membrane surface for a single detector material. This work presents the design of a readout circuit amplifier where a dual detector element microbolometer is used, rather than the traditional single element. The concept to be investigated is based on the principle that both elements will be stimulated with a similar incoming IR signal and experience the same resistive change, thus creating a common mode signal. However, such a common mode signal will be rejected by a differential amplifier, thus one element is placed within a negative resistance converter to create a differential mode signal that is twice the magnitude of the comparable single mode signal of traditional detector designs. An instrumentation amplifier is used for the final stage of the readout amplifier circuit, as it allows for very high common mode rejection with proper trimming of the Wheatstone bridge to compensate for manufacturing tolerance. It was found that by implementing the above, improved sensitivity can be achieved.
In the past, high resolution thermal sensors required expensive cooling techniques making the early thermal imagers expensive to operate and cumbersome to transport, limiting them mainly to military applications. However, the introduction of uncooled microbolometers has overcome many of earlier problems and now shows great potential for commercial optoelectric applications. The structure of uncooled microbolometer sensors, especially their smaller size, makes them attractive in low cost commercial applications requiring high production numbers with relatively low performance requirements. However, the biasing requirements of these microbolometers cause these sensors to generate a substantial amount of noise on the output measurements due to self-heating. Different techniques to reduce this noise component have been attempted, such as pulsed biasing currents and the use of blind bolometers as common mode reference. These techniques proved to either limit the performance of the microbolometer or increase the cost of their implementation. The development of a low cost lock-in amplifier provides a readout technique to potentially overcome these challenges. High performance commercial lock-in amplifiers are very expensive. Using this as a readout circuit for a microbolometer will take away from the low manufacturing cost of the detector array. Thus, the purpose of this work was to develop a low cost readout circuit using the technique of phase sensitive detection and customizing this as a readout circuit for microbolometers. The hardware and software of the readout circuit was designed and tested for improvement of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the microbolometer signal. An optical modulation system was also developed in order to effectively identify the desired signal from the noise with the use of the readout circuit. A data acquisition and graphical user interface sub system was added in order to display the signal recovered by the readout circuit. The readout circuit was able to enhance the SNR of the microbolometer signal significantly. It was shown that the quality of the phase sensitive detector plays a significant role in the effectiveness of the readout circuit to improve the SNR.
Microsensing is a leading field in technology due to its wide application potential, not only in bio-engineering, but in other fields as well. Microsensors have potentially low-cost manufacturing processes, while a single device type can have various uses, and this consequently helps with the ever-growing need to provide better health conditions in rural parts of the world. Capacitive biosensors detect a change in permittivity (or dielectric constant) of a biological material, usually within a parallel plate capacitor structure which is often implemented with integrated electrodes of an inert metal such as gold or platinum on a microfluidic substrate typically with high dielectric constant. There exist parasitic capacitance components in these capacitive sensors, which have large influence on the capacitive measurement. Therefore, they should be considered for the development of sensitive and accurate sensing devices. An analytical model of a capacitive sensor device is discussed, which accounts for these parasitic factors. The model is validated with a laboratory device of fixed geometry, consisting of two parallel gold electrodes on an alumina (Al2O3) substrate mounted on a glass microscope slide, and with a windowed cover layer of poly-dimethyl-siloxane (PDMS). The thickness of the gold layer is 1μm and the electrode spacing is 300μm. The alumina substrate has a thickness of 200μm, and the high relative permittivity of 11.5 is expected to be a significantly contributing factor to the total device capacitance. The 155μm thick PDMS layer is also expected to contribute substantially to the total device capacitance since the relative permittivity for PDMS is 2.7. The wideband impedance analyser evaluation of the laboratory device gives a measurement result of 2pF, which coincides with the model results; while the handheld RLC meter readout of 4pF at a frequency of 10kHz is acceptable within the measurement accuracy of the instrument. This validated model will now be used for the geometric design and simulation of efficient capacitive sensors in specific biological detection applications.
Uncooled microbolometers have become extremely popular as low cost thermal detectors used in FPAs for thermal imaging cameras. Most of the emphasis of researchers have gone towards the design and optimisation of device structures, materials, processes and readout electronics with this application in mind. However, microbolometers have the potential to be utilised towards the development of alternate applications. It is well known that the thermal conduction of microbolometers depend on the pressure surrounding the device, as this governs the dominating conduction method. This work investigates the possibility of employing a Ti thinfilm microbolometer as a low pressure sensor. A well known multi-physics simulation environment is utilised to simulate the microbolometer thermoelectric response over varied atmospheric pressure conditions. These simulation results are compared with a much simpler air pressure model than previous works using microbolometers, as well as experimental data, where the fabricated prototype showed a measured device TCR of about 0.085% K-1 and a sensitivity of about 0:701 – 10-9 W K-1 Pa-1.