Degree Granting Department
John T. Wolan, Ph.D.
Bandgap, Resistive sensors, Semiconductor, Syn-gas, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
As hydrogen is increasingly used as an energy carrier, gas sensors that can operate at high temperatures and in harsh environments are needed for fuel cell, aerospace, and automotive applications. The high temperature Fischer-Tropsch process also uses mixtures of hydrogen and carbon monoxide to generate synthetic fuels from non-fossil precursors. As the Fischer-Tropsch process depends upon particular gas mixtures to generate various fuels, a sensor which can determine the proper ratio of reactants is needed. To this end, gallium nitride (GaN) has been used to fabricate a resistive gas sensor. GaN is a suitable semiconductor to be used in hydrogen because of a wide, direct bandgap and greater stability than many other semiconductors. Additionally, resistive sensors offer several advantages in design compared to other types of sensors. Response time of resistive sensors is faster than those of other semiconductor sensors because catalytic and diffusion steps are not part of the response mechanism. Instead, a thermal detection mechanism is employed in resistive sensors. In this work, sensor response to changes in hydrogen concentration in nitrogen was measured at 200°C and 300°C. Sensor response was measured as change in current from a reference response to pure nitrogen at each temperature under a constant 2.5 V bias. Isothermal operation was achieved by controlling sensor temperature and pre-heating gas mixtures. Sensitivity to concentration increased upon an increase in temperature. Additionally, sensor response to concentration changes of H2 in CO at 50 °C was demonstrated. Sensors show similar responses to nitrogen and carbon monoxide mixtures, which have similar thermal properties. Using the thermal detection mechanism of the sensors, a correlation was shown between sensor response and a gas mixture thermal conductivity.
Scholar Commons Citation
Monteparo, Christopher Nicholas, "Gallium nitride sensors for hydrogen/nitrogen and hydrogen/carbon monoxide gas mixtures" (2009). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.