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Apparatus to characterize gas sensor response under real-world conditions in the lab

: Kneer, J.; Eberhardt, A.; Walden, P.; Ortiz Pérez, A.; Wöllenstein, J.; Palzer, S.


Review of scientific instruments 85 (2014), Nr.5, Art.055006
ISSN: 0034-6748
ISSN: 1089-7623
Fraunhofer IPM ()

The use of semiconducting metal-oxide (MOX) based gas sensors in demanding applications such as climate and environmental research as well as industrial applications is currently hindered by their poor reproducibility, selectivity, and sensitivity. This is mainly due to the sensing mechanism which relies on the change of conductivity of the metal-oxide layer. To be of use for advanced applications metal-oxide (MOX) gas sensors need to be carefully prepared and characterized in laboratory environments prior to deployment. This paper describes the working principle, design, and use of a new apparatus that can emulate real-world conditions in the laboratory and characterize the MOX gas sensor signal in tailor-made atmospheres. In particular, this includes the control of trace gas concentrations and the control of oxygen and humidity levels which are important for the surface chemistry of metal-oxide based sensors. Furthermore, the sensor temperature can be precisely controlled, which is a key parameter of semiconducting, sensitive layers, and their response to particular gas compositions. The setup also allows to determine the power consumption of each device individually which may be used for performance benchmarking or monitoring changes of the temperature of the gas composition. Both, the working principle and the capabilities of the gas measurement chamber are presented in this paper employing tin dioxide (SnO2) based micro sensors as exemplary devices.