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Gas Sensor-Studies On Sensor Film Deposition, ASIC Design And Testing

By Shobi Bagga


The widespread use of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) for cooking and as fuel for automobile vehicles requires fast and selective detection of LPG to precisely measure the leakage of gas for preventing the occurrence of accidental explosions. The adoption of Micro-Electro-Mechanical-System (MEMS) technology for fabricating the gas sensor provides other potential advantages for sensing applications, which includes low power consumption, low fabrication cost, high quality, small size and reliability. MEMS based gas sensor requires a sensitive layer of oxide material like ZnO, SnO2, TiO2, Fe2O3, etc. The tin oxide material used in the present work changes its electrical properties, as it interacts with the reducing gas like LPG. The sensor material becomes active only at high temperature such as 400ºC, thereby realizing the need of a micro heater to reach the desired temperature. To control the temperature of micro heater and to determine the change in electrical properties of the sensor due to its interaction with LPG an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) forms an essential constituent of the MEMS based gas sensor. In the present work, an attempt has been made to improve the sensitivity of LPG gas sensor and it is correlated with other properties by different characterization techniques. The work also includes the design as well as testing of ASIC for gas sensor system. Process parameters particularly deposition time and substrate temperature have a profound influence on the microstructure of the tin oxide film, which in turn affects the gas sensing properties. To study the effects of these parameters, RF magnetron sputtering system is used for depositing tin oxide films onto the silicon substrate, which is compatible with CMOS technology. The effects of structural properties, optical properties and the porosity of the films are also studied and correlated with the gas sensing properties. In this direction the deposited films are characterized using X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) to determine the structure orientation. The morphology of the sensor films are analyzed by Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) while the refractive index, thickness and porosity of the films are determined using ellipsometry studies. The thickness of the deposited films is also confirmed by the surface profilometer. The change in composition of the deposited film along its depth is determined using Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (SIMS). Maximum sensitivity 5.5 is obtained for 470 nm thick films, which corresponds to a grain size of 38nm at the operating temperature of 4000C. Following these studies, an ASIC has been designed using Tanner EDA Tools on AMIS 0.7 µm CMOS process, fabricated through Euro practice’s ASIC prototyping service, Belgium and tested successfully after fabrication. The temperature control module of ASIC has been designed using relaxation oscillator technique to control the temperature of the in house developed heater. The resistance to period conversion technique is explored for the design of the sensor read out module of ASIC. The heater is integrated successfully with the sensor film, ASIC and microcontroller based LCD module. The test results show good agreement with the simulation results

Topics: Electronic Devices, Gas Sensors, Sensor Film Deposition, Tin Oxide Films - Properties, Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC), Tin Oxide Gas Sensor, Tin Oxide Films - Deposition, Gas Sensor System, Instrumentation
Year: 2007
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