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Environmental Sensors and Subsystems

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The Environmental Sensors and Subsystems (ESS) Thrust continues to develop novel sensors, actuators, and microinstrumentation for a broad range of physical parameters and chemical species. These devices and multi-device ensembles serve as the information-gathering modules of wireless microsystems whose small size, accuracy, and low-power dissipation will enable their widespread dissemination in applications ranging from homeland security, environmental quality monitoring, industrial process control, and global climate studies, to biomarker monitoring, and medical surveillance. Devices being developed include: sensors for organic vapors, reactive inorganic gases, dissolved metals, bio-molecules, ionizing radiation, pressure, temperature, humidity, acceleration, and position; microvalves and micropumps for sample capture and transport; and micromachined structures for particulate filtration, diffusive vapor generation, preconcentration, focusing, separation, heating, and cooling.

Engineered to meet performance requirements associated with the Environmental Monitoring Testbed (EMT), the research within this Thrust merges fundamental studies of new materials, scaling laws, and physicochemical models with new design, microfabrication, and interconnection strategies to extend microsystem performance beyond limits defined by conventional paradigms. The work in the ESS Thrust is closely linked to parallel efforts in other WIMS Center Thrusts on low-power circuit designs for drive, control, and signal processing of EMT devices, electronic and fluidic interfacing and packaging strategies, and two-way RF MEMS communication subsystems. The centerpiece of the EMT, and a major emphasis of the ESS Thrust, is the WIMS micro gas chromatograph (µGC) development program, which remains the preeminent effort focused on gas-phase microanalytical systems in the world. Achieving the goals of this program will have far-reaching impacts on the engineering research community and society at large.

Updated 09/01/2010