Gas Sensors - Micro-Heater Designs And Studies On Sensor Film Deposition
Current gas sensor technology, although meeting the minimum requirements in many instances, suffers for a number of limitations. Hence, there is currently a considerable volume of research being undertaken at many laboratories of different countries. In the past, all chemical sensors and catalyst were optimized empirically by a trial and error method. Today, however, systematic research and development is becoming increasingly important in order to improve sensors and to find new sensing principles. Obtaining a long term stable gas sensor with improved sensitivity, selectivity, and low cost for mass production passes through fundamental research and material characterization to build new chemically sensitive devices or to improve existing ones. The bottom line in the design and manufacture of modern gas sensors is the transfer from ceramic(of Figaro type) to thin film gas sensors(TFGs). This transfer provides new opportunities for further microminiaturization, power consumption and cost reduction of gas sensors. Therefore, at the present time, thin film gas sensors are the basis for the design of the modern gas sensitive multi-parameter microsensor systems. Applications of these systems include environment, security, home systems, smart buildings, transportation, discrete manufacturing, process industries and so on. Microelectromechanical systems(MEMS) based integrated gas sensors present several advantages for these applications such as ease of array fabrication, small size, and unique thermal manipulation capabilities. MEMS based gas sensors; which are usually produced using a standard CMOS(Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) process, have the additional advantages of being readily realized by commercial foundries and amenable to the inclusion of on-chip electronics. In order to speed up the design and optimization of such integrated sensors, microheater designs for gas sensor applications have been presented as first part of the present thesis. As heater design is the key part for a gas sensor operation. So 3D simulations have been used to optimize micro-heater geometry. The application of MEMS Design Tool(COVENTORWARE) has been presented to the design and analysis of micro-hotplate (MHP) structures. Coupled Electro-thermal analysis provided an estimation of thermal losses and temperature distribution on the hotplate for realistic geometrical and material parameters pertinent to fabrication technology. Five microheater designs have been proposed in terms of different sizes and shapes in order to optimize the microhotplate structure to be used for gas sensor operation for the specified range of temperature and power consumption. To produce a gas sensor, which is able to detect LPG leak, thin films of tin oxide have been developed. FR sputtering has been used to deposit gas sensitive tin oxide thin filmls under various deposition conditions. Four different values of pressure in the range from high pressure(5 X 10-2 mbar) to lower pressure (2 X 10-3 mbar), three RF power values 50, 75, 100 W and varied oxygen percentage in sputtering atmosphere (0-18%) have been used to optimize the material properties of tin oxide thin films to study the sensitivity towards LPG. All the samples have been analyzed using various macro and microscopic characterization techniques. Extensive studies have been done on the sensor response for the samples deposited under different conditions. Finally the sample film deposited at 5 x 10-3 mbar, with applied power of 75 W in the presence of 8% oxygen, showed maximum sensitivity towards LPG.
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