Integration of a micro-gas chromatography system for detection of volatile organic compounds
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The focus of this dissertation is on the design and micro-fabrication of an all silicon gas chromatography column with a novel two dimensional resistive heater and on its integration with an ultra-low power Thermal Conductivity Detector (TCD) for fast separation and detection of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). The major limitations of the current MEMS-GC column are: direct bonding of silicon to silicon, and peak band broadening due to slow temperature programming. As part of this thesis, a new gold eutectic-fusion bonding technique is developed to improve the sealing of the column. Separation of BETX, alkane mixture and VOCs were demonstrated with the MEMS GC column. The time and power required to ramp and sustain the column’s temperature are very high for the current GC columns. To reduce the time required to separate the compounds, a new temperature gradient programming heating method was developed to generate temperature gradients along the length of the column. This novel heating method refocuses eluding bands and counteracts some of the chromatographic band spreading due to diffusion resulting in an improved separation performance. A low power TCD was packaged and tested in a GC by comparison against FID for the detection of a mixture of VOCs. It demonstrated low power operation of a few milliwatts and a very fast response. The MEMS-GC was also demonstrated for rapid detection of the VOC gases released by pathogenic species of Armillaria fungus.