Composite Transistor Array Vapor Sensor

Period of Performance: 11/18/2009 - 11/18/2011


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Giner, Inc.
89 Rumford Avenue Array
Newton, MA 02466
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, #0411
La Jolla, CA 92093
Institution POC


The Giner, Inc. Phase II program will implement a the Hybrid Sensor Array (HSA ) working prototype based on sensor development and pulsed operating conditions developed in Phase I. The HSA uses combinations of semiconductor doped metal oxide materials developed at Giner, Inc. together with organometallic material developed at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). The electronic properties of these materials are altered by contact with a wide variety of vapors, making them suitable for rugged, compact sensors. An integrated breadboard sensor array will be demonstrated for detection of trace levels of vapors which simulate the presence of chemical warfare agents and explosives residues. A design will be generated for fabrication of a compact, lightweight, portable battery operated unit for evaluation of selective analyte detection with live agents and realistic evaluation of power consumption and signal/noise ratio with pre-amplification and signal processing. The unit will include logic for signal processing to determine multiple vapors of interest with wireless communication to a PDA. Studies will be conducted to develop a fundamental understanding of how different vapors influence the electronic properties of the semiconductor materials. 6-12 Sensors in the array will be used for discrimination, sensitivity and reliability testing. BENEFIT: The detection and monitoring of vapors as indicators of the presence of explosive devices and chemical warfare agents is vital to homeland security and Department of Defense interests. Additional areas of commercial potential include industrial worker safety in manufacturing, air pollutant monitoring at home and in the workplace, and aides to medical treatments and diagnostics using breath analyzers. The principal competing technology consists of air sampling followed by gas chromatography, which can add considerable time to the delay in getting useful, timely results. Other methods rely on photoacoustic, Raman and absorption spectroscopy and fluorescence spectroscopy, which are expensive and potentially too cumbersome to use in portable sensors. The Giner, Inc./UCSD sensor arrays will be especially suitable for industrial safety and Homeland/Military Security needs, which require portable sensors, that are rugged and can operate in harsh environmental conditions with proper calibration and with minimal power demand. The experience that Giner, Inc. has in commercializing sensors is reflected in the successful licensing of its proton exchange membrane-based thick film sensor technology to Perkin-Elmer company (now EG&G) in 1999. Currently, Giner, Inc. is involved with the commercialization of a wrist-mounted, battery-operated transdermal sensor to monitor blood alcohol levels. This unit can be equipped with a wireless transmitter for remote logging.