A layered microchip conductance detector with through-layer access to detection fields and high sensitivity to dielectric constant

Suganuma, Y.; Dhirani, A.-A.
April 2011
Review of Scientific Instruments;Apr2011, Vol. 82 Issue 4, p044701
Academic Journal
The present study explores a novel apertured microchip conductance detector (AMCD) that is sensitive to dielectric constant. Fashioned on silicon oxide/silicon using optical microlithography, the detector has novel parallel-plate geometry with a top mesh electrode, a middle apertured insulator, and a bottom conducting electrode. This monolithic apertured architecture is planar and may be provided with a thin insulator layer enabling large capacitances, while the top mesh electrode and middle apertured-insulator enable access to regions of the capacitor where electric fields are strong. Hence, the detector is sensitive yet mechanically robust. To test its response, the AMCD was immersed in various solvents, namely water, methanol, acetonitrile, and hexanes. Its response was found to vary in proportion to the solvents' respective dielectric constants. The AMCD was also able to distinguish quantitatively the presence of various molecules in solution, including molecules with chromophores [such as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)] in methanol and those without chrompohores [such as polyethylene glycol 200 Daltons (PEG200)] in methanol or water. The universal nature of dielectric constant and the microchip detector's sensitivity point to a wide range of potential applications.


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