Optical Chemical Sensing Platform for Environmental Applications

Optical Chemical Sensing Platform for Environmental Applications

Environmental sensing is becoming increasingly important to our daily life.  It involves sensing of parameters such as temperature, humidity, and more importantly, volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  In the past decades, although the MEMS industry has done tremendously well in areas such as inertial, pressure and microphones, etc., chemical sensing (i.e., VOC) is one area that is much underserved.  This is in part due to the very challenging nature of chemical sensing, including ppb-level sensitivity, chemical selectivity and sensor drift over time. This renders the sensors either low grade or high cost (in addition to being bulky). For example, chemical sensors cost 10-1000 times more than other high volume MEMS sensors.

In IME, we embarked on the development of a chip-scale photonic platform for chemical sensing.  This platform allows mass fabrication at wafer level, selectivity through IR finger printing, and post-fab deposition of pre-concentrating elements that allow sub-ppm sensitivity. In this talk, this sensing platform will be introduced, the necessary enabling technologies will be analysed and some application scenarios will be discussed.