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Thermopile Sensors and Applications to the Detection of Chemical and Biological Reactions and Airborne Pollutants

Date: Thursday, November 19, 2008, 7:00 PM

Speaker: David J. Lawrence, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Integrated Science and Technology — James Madison University - Click Here for the speaker's bio.

View Presentation: 746 KB PDF

Abstract:

We have developed sensors for airborne pollutants using 36-junction thermopiles as the sensing platform. The thermopiles detect heat released when airborne pollutants react with chemical coatings applied to the sensing junctions.

Our thermopiles consist of microfabricated thin film bismuth-antimony junctions on thin polyimide or polyethylene terephthalate drumhead membranes that are supported by aluminum substrates. The sensitivity of our devices exceeds 5.7 V-s/J. A copper oxalate coating on the sensing junctions enables the detection of ammonia vapor. Sub-ppm concentrations of ammonia in air can be detected. Detection of acid vapors (e.g., HCl) has also been demonstrated.

A second thermopile design consists of ten microfabricated silicon-nickel junctions on silicon cantilevered beams. The device designs, device fabrication, and techniques used for thermopile characterization will be described.

Experiments with the detection of ammonia and acid vapors will be presented, as well as the detection of the reaction between biotin and the protein avidin.

Biographical Information:

David Lawrence is professor emeritus in the Department of Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) at James Madison University. He received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Syracuse University in 1973, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1975 and 1977, respectively.

David has been at James Madison University since 1993 and his research interests include sensors, microfabrication, and the preparation and characterization of thin films. Prior to his position at James Madison University he was a Senior Research Scientist at Eastman Kodak Corporate Research Laboratories for sixteen years. There he conducted research on optoelectronic materials, and on the design, fabrication, and characterization of optoelectronic devices, including LEDs, laser diodes, photodiodes, and optoelectronic integrated circuits.

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