A new design for the miniaturization of an existing oxygen sensor is proposed based on the application of silicon microfabrication technologies to a cm sized O2 sensor demonstrated by Argonne National Laboratory and The Ohio State University which seals a metal/metal oxide within the structure to provide an integrated oxygen reference. The structural and processing changes suggested will result in a novel MEMS-based device meeting the semiconductor industry standards for cost efficiency and mass production. The MEMS design requires thin film depositions to create a YSZ membrane, palladium oxide reference and platinum electrodes. Pt electrodes are studied under operational conditions ensuring film conductivity over prolonged usage. SEM imaging confirms void formation after extended tests, consistent with the literature. Furthermore, hydrophilic bonding of pairs of silicon die samples containing the YSZ membrane and palladium oxide is discussed in order to create hermetic sealed cavities for oxygen reference. The introduction of tensile Si3N4 films to the backside of the silicon die generates bowing of the chips, compromising bond quality. This effect is controlled through the application of pressure during the initial bonding stages. In addition, KOH etching of the bonded die samples is discussed, and a YSZ membrane that survives the etching step is characterized by Raman spectroscopy.
Chemical gas sensors can have an enormous impact on optimizing complex processes as well as facilitate disease diagnosis. In this article, we demonstrate how sensing of gas molecules is influencing the next generation of engines for transportation applications, as well as in disease diagnosis. In such applications, the demands on sensors are quite extreme. Not only does the device have to detect the gas of interest with high sensitivity, it also has to discriminate against other species present in a complex environment, such as combustion exhaust and human breath. In addition, the sensors will need to have as small a footprint as possible in size and power requirements. With these varied requirements in mind, only electrochemical sensors have the potential to be practical. This article focuses on nitric oxide (NOx) and ammonia (NH3) sensor necessary for emission control of next generation, high efficiency, lean burn engines and nitric oxide (NO) sensor for breath analysis for diagnosis of respiratory diseases. In all of these applications, there has been significant recent commercial activity. We indicate the electrochemical principles of these commercial sensors, and the development from our research group. We present potentiometric total NOx sensors that can operate in harsh environments, and impedance-based NH3 sensor for transportation industry. For detecting NO in human breath, we have demonstrated two strategies, the first using a resistive approach, and the second with an array of potentiometric sensors. Data from these sensors, their limitations as well as novel MEMS-based approaches for miniaturization is presented.
Aerospace applications require a range of chemical sensing technologies to monitor conditions related to both space
exploration and aeronautic aircraft operations. These applications include leak detection, engine emissions monitoring,
fire detection, human health monitoring, and environmental monitoring. This paper discusses efforts to produce
microsensor platforms and Smart Sensor Systems that can be tailored to measure a range of chemical species. This
technology development ranges from development of base sensor platforms to the evaluation of more mature systems in
relevant environments. Although microsensor systems can have a significant impact on aerospace applications, extensive
application testing is necessary for their long-term implementation. The introduction of nanomaterials into microsensor
platforms has the potential to significantly enable improved sensor performance, but control of those nanostructures is
necessary in order to achieve maximum benefits. Examples will be given of microsensor platform technology, Smart
Sensor Systems, application testing, and efforts to integrate and control nanostructures into sensor structures.