A Reliable Switch that is Triggered by the Detection of a Specific Gas or Substance

Description:

Reliable MEMS Switch that is Triggered by the Detection of a Specific Gas or Substance

 

An integrated ‘smart’ device which combines the functions of a mass threshold value gas sensor and an electro-mechanical (MEMS) switch that actuates an alarm or defensive security system. A smart switch that is actuated on the detection of a sub-stance.

The centerpiece of this “smart” switch electro-mechanical technology is an analyte-coated microbeam which can sense an explosive gas or biological substance. The principle of operation is that the absorption of the chemical or bio agent changes the mass on the cantilevered beam, which collapses and closes an electric circuit to activate a safety alarm or countermeasure. The novel active structure can be engineered into MEMS devices used to sense a variety of biologics, chemicals, explosives, aller-gens, drugs, pollutants, and, nano-engineered materials.

The invention relies on electrostatic actuation of a parallel plate capacitor, Figure 1, in which one plate (or any other structure of arbitrary shape) is stationary and the other plate is movable and is actuated or biased by an electrostatic DC force.

 

 

KEY ELEMENTS

 

• The device integrates the functionality of separate components (sensors, actua-tors, decision units, amplifiers, analog to digital converters) into one package

 

• High reliability is built into the design of the device: the switch will operate only when the concentration of the hazardous gas or material exceeds an encoded threshold value

 

• Ability to deploy in the field and detect in real time without use of lab

 

• Simple and inexpensive to batch-fabricate, calibrate and operate

 

APPLICATIONS

 

• The invented device can operate as a chemical sensor or as a biosensor

 

• Defense and Homeland Security, e.g., detect explosives such as TNT and bio- and chemical warfare agents, including anthrax

 

• Environmental, e.g., an array of “electronic noses” detect ozone, solvent vapors and VOCs, radon, ammonia, smoke and pollutants in factories, furnace rooms, residences, public buildings, casinos, nursing homes, dry cleaners

 

• Food Safety, e.g., detect dangerous concentrations of bacteria and send a signal to pull the foodstuffs from the processing line for further inspection

 

• Transportation, e.g., detect fugitive emissions in fueling facilities and parking garages, including Hydrogen, compressed natural gas, carbon mon-oxide

 

• Mine Safety, e.g., detect concentra-tions of methane and combustible gases

 

ADVANTAGES

 

• Simple and inexpensive to batch-fabricate, calibrate and operate

 

• Low-power, low-weight, small foot-print design

 

• Built-in reliability – the switch operates only when the concentration of the hazardous gas or material exceeds an encoded threshold value

 

• Speed – ability to deploy in the field and detect in real time without use of lab

 

U.S. Patent

8,168,120

 

INVENTOR

Dr. Mohammad Younis is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. His research focus is on the utilization of knowledge gained from understanding the exceptional mechanical and motion aspects of microstructures in multi-physics fields to design, optimize and invent MEMS devices of distinctive characteristics and superior performance.

 

Patent Information:
Category(s):
Electronics
For Information, Contact:
Scott Hancock
Director, IP Management and Licensing
Binghamton University
(607) 777-5874
shancock@binghamton.edu
Inventors:
Mohammad Younis
Keywords:
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