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Proceedings Paper

MEMS device for mass market gas and chemical sensors
Author(s): Brian R. Kinkade; James T. Daly; Edward A. Johnson
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Paper Abstract

Gas and chemical sensors are used in many applications. Industrial health and safety monitors allow companies to meet OSHA requirements by detecting harmful levels of toxic or combustible gases. Vehicle emissions are tested during annual inspections. Blood alcohol breathalizers are used by law enforcement. Refrigerant leak detection ensures that the Earth's ozone layer is not being compromised. Industrial combustion emissions are also monitored to minimize pollution. Heating and ventilation systems watch for high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) to trigger an increase in fresh air exchange. Carbon monoxide detectors are used in homes to prevent poisoning from poor combustion ventilation. Anesthesia gases are monitored during a patients operation. The current economic reality is that two groups of gas sensor technologies are competing in two distinct existing market segments - affordable (less reliable) chemical reaction sensors for consumer markets and reliable (expensive) infrared (IR) spectroscopic sensors for industrial, laboratory, and medical instrumentation markets. Presently high volume mass-market applications are limited to CO detectros and on-board automotive emissions sensors. Due to reliability problems with electrochemical sensor-based CO detectors there is a hesitancy to apply these sensors in other high volume applications. Applications such as: natural gas leak detection, non-invasive blood glucose monitoring, home indoor air quality, personal/portable air quality monitors, home fire/burnt cooking detector, and home food spoilage detectors need a sensor that is a small, efficient, accurate, sensitive, reliable, and inexpensive. Connecting an array of these next generation gas sensors to wireless networks that are starting to proliferate today creates many other applications. Asthmatics could preview the air quality of their destinations as they venture out into the day. HVAC systems could determine if fresh air intake was actually better than the air in the house. Internet grocery delivery services could check for spoiled foods in their clients' refrigerators. City emissions regulators could monitor the various emissions sources throughout the area from their desk to predict how many pollution vouchers they will need to trade in the next week. We describe a new component architecture for mass-market sensors based on silicon microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. MEMS are micrometer-scale devices that can be fabricated as discrete devices or large arrays, using the technology of integrated circuit manufacturing. These new photonic bandgap and MEMS fabricataion technologies will simplify the component technology to provide high-quality gas and chemical sensors at consumer prices.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 August 2000
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 4176, Micromachined Devices and Components VI, (15 August 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.395626
Show Author Affiliations
Brian R. Kinkade, Ion Optics, Inc. (United States)
James T. Daly, Ion Optics, Inc. (United States)
Edward A. Johnson, Ion Optics, Inc. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4176:
Micromachined Devices and Components VI
Eric Peeters; Oliver Paul, Editor(s)

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