IEEE Sensors Day 1

29 10 2011

A great start to the conference. The opening plenary by Prof Julian Jones from Heriott Watt University was a good introduction to the development and application of fibre interferometry, including work he has undertaken in photonics crystal fibres. This includes the use of photonics crystal fibres, which allow the transmission of longer wavelength light, even though the core is still fabricated from silica. These have also been used to sense hydrogen, by use of a palladium coating.

Then it was a full session looking at gas sensors. This year, there is interest in non contact techniques, such as the one demonstrated by Martin Eickhoff, which used GaN and InGaN nano wires to investigate the concentration of explosive gases, with a sensitivity to hydrogen of around 50ppm at 80C. This was followed by our paper on DNA templates Pd nano wires, which is available in one of the previous posts.

DNA templated Pd nanowires sensor

Alton in the middle of the presentation at IEEE Sensors

This was followed by another talk on hydrogen sensing using WO3 nano particles and carbon nanotubes, before I went off to watch a couple of talks on energy harvesting, following on from the work Simon completed for his thesis.

After a coffee break, the gas sensor talks continued, with the first two concentrating on the use of graphene to form sensor arrays, with the intention of realising electronic noses. The graphene in these two presentations comes from the chemical reduction of graphite oxide and is then dispersed in water, prior to application to the electrodes. The sensitivity of this type of graphene is high, because of the functionalisation of the surface and the high defect density. One interesting fact from these talks is the use of CuO to detect acetone, something which is not possible using a graphene alone. After this, two talks on the development of silicon carbide sensors, which were interesting and showed an improvement on previous work in this field. This was achieved in the main with significant signal processing of the results, and as a result it is possible to identify the concentration of gas species. This has the potential to be a critical enabling step in the quest for commercial applications of SiC gas sensors.

The last talk prior to lunch, was reporting on the 1/f noise of gas sensors, something which we may well consider for our SiC devices in the future. The trend shows a different shape, as well as magnitude, with different gas species and concentration. This is thought to be linked to the adsorption / desorption of gas from the surface of the sensor.

After lunch, the posters. The majority were not related to our interest in gas sensors, so it was a chance to catch our breath in time for the final talks of the day. An interesting session, which discussed the suitability of langasite as a suitable material for acoustic sensors in high temperature environments. Apparently this is available commercially and it appears that it might make an interesting piezomaterial for high temperature energy harvesting.

Not bad for the first day, and there’s still two more to go!

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