Sensor Materials and Technologies
Working from the successes of the NSF Center for Industrial Sensors and Measurements (CISM), a wide range of on-going activity in sensor materials and devices is carried out in our department spanning ceramic, polymers, and biomaterials sensor technologies. Research in the field of Sensor Materials and Technologies includes such topics as
Electrochemical sensors for environmental and high-temperature applications
Bulk, nanowires, and heterostructures
Chemical sensors for breath and skin
Devices for artificial olfaction
The Akbar, Gouma, Morris, and Li research groups work on metal oxide-based sensors that rely on the exchange of electrons between gas molecules and the surface of the ceramic oxide. This type of sensor is among the most studied since they are attractive due to their high sensitivity, low cost, simplicity, and compatibility with modern electronic devices. They have been widely used in applications such as health and safety (medical diagnosis, food processing, and detection of flammable, toxic or explosive gases), energy efficiency and emission control in combustion and industrial processes. The groups focus on the chemistry and materials science to the designing of selective sensors.
Dr. Gouma’s group studies both ceramic materials and sensors, focusing on health and safely related applications. The ceramic materials that studied are binary metal oxides and ternary Molybdenum Chalcogenides. The group studies the novel processing of these materials, their crystal structures with an emphasis on meta stability and polymorphism-control, as well as their functional properties. In addition, the Gouma group studies chemical sensors, based on semiconducting materials, that detect biomarkers in breath and skin. The group designs and builds devices and applications using these sensors, such as a COVID-19 breath test.
Dr. Li’s group works on inorganic thin-film materials (Si, SiO2, metal oxide) and their combinations. The main focus is to investigate doping, device design/fabrication, and packaging to create novel flexible electronic devices for applications in environmental monitoring and advanced healthcare. The group has recently demonstrated that the combination of these inorganic materials with polymers/biomaterials can be used for sensitive and selective detection of biomarkers in bodily fluids. These materials and electronics provide a realistic pathway to biomedical devices with biocompatibility, bioconformality and biostability for the applications in closed-loop neuromodulation and neuroscience research.
Drs. Akbar and Morris have focused on high-temperature combustion applications. This group, along with collaboration from Dr. Suliman Dregia, has recently pioneered an innovation in nano-processing involving surface patterning techniques that exploit intrinsic materials properties to create ordered and aligned oxide nano-structures without the use of nano-lithography. These methods provide an economical way to mass-produce nanostructures that are attached to a substrate making an ideal platform for a wide variety of applications. The group has also demonstrated that the patterns can be transferred to other substrates such as polymers by replica molding. These patterns provide high surface area and facilitate studies of a variety of applications that require interaction on the surface such as chemical sensing and biological cell attachment and proliferation. The main focus of the group has been on the characterization and understanding of the mechanism of nano-structure formation so the feature size and shape can be controlled to tune to a wide variety of applications.
These faculty members specialize in the research of sensors and sensing materials.
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