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Proceedings Paper

Detection of explosives using heated microcantilever sensors
Author(s): Ian C. Nelson; Debjyoti Banerjee; William J. Rogers; M. Sam Mannan
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Paper Abstract

The objective of this study is to develop a portable micro-sensor platform for real-time detection of energetic materials (e.g., explosives) over a wide range of vapor pressures. The bending response of an electrically heated microcantilever thermal bi-morph array is used for specific detection of combustible substances using their calorimetric properties. Chemical reactions on the surface induce stress on a micro-cantilever which affects the bending and is measured in real-time using an optical apparatus. The threshold value of actuation current is found to provide a unique signature for identifying equilibrium concentration of iso-propyl alcohol, acetone and gasoline vapors at room temperature. The threshold current is found to scale with the vapor pressure of the volatile species and the ignition temperature. This shows that the sensors can be used for specific detection of different types of combustible materials. The sensor array can be used to detect, identify and monitor volatile combustible species in real time (response time in milliseconds) with the capability for redundancy checks and the ability to eliminate false positive/ false-negative results. The sensor is capable of remote monitoring on a continuous basis for indoor and outdoor applications - which protects the operator of the sensor instrument from explosive effects. The sensor design permits detection at a nominal distance away from the source without coming in contact with the contaminated surface. The sensor capability can be enhanced by specifically coating the micro-cantilever surfaces (e.g. using Dip Pen Nanolithography techniques) and can be integrated into a portable detection platform or instrument.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 May 2006
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 6223, Micro (MEMS) and Nanotechnologies for Space Applications, 62230O (18 May 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.666339
Show Author Affiliations
Ian C. Nelson, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)
Debjyoti Banerjee, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)
William J. Rogers, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)
M. Sam Mannan, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6223:
Micro (MEMS) and Nanotechnologies for Space Applications
Thomas George; Zhong-Yang Cheng, Editor(s)

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