The drill bit gradually burrows deeper into the earth, working its way through the rock. Meanwhile, dozens of sensors are busily engaged in tasks such as taking pressure readings and evaluating porosity. The conditions they face are extreme, with the sensors being required to withstand high temperatures and pressures as well as shocks and vibrations. The sensors send the data to the surface to help geologists with work such as searching for oil deposits.
Yet there is one major hurdle: on average, the pressure sensors can only withstand temperatures of between 80 and 125 degrees Celsius – but at great depths the temperature is often significantly higher. The Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in Duisburg has come to the rescue, its researchers having developed a pressure sensor system that continues to function normally even at 250 degrees Celsius. »The pressure sensors consist of two components that are located on a microelectronic chip or wafer,« explains Dr. Hoc Khiem Trieu, department head at IMS. »The first component is the sensor itself, and the other component is the EEPROM.« This is the element that stores all the readings together with the data required for calibration. To enable the pressure sensor to function properly even at extremely high temperatures, the developers modified the wafer. While normal wafers tend to be made of monocrystalline silicon, the researchers chose silicon oxide for this application. »The additional oxide layer provides better electrical insulation,« Trieu continues. »It prevents the leakage current that typically occurs at very high temperatures, which is the principal reason that conventional sensors fail when they reach a certain temperature.« The oxide layer enabled the researchers to improve the insulation of the memory component by three to four orders of magnitude. In theory, this should enable the pressure sensors to withstand temperatures of up to 350 degrees Celsius – the researchers have provided practical proof of stability up to 250 degrees and are planning to conduct further studies at higher temperatures. In addition, the researchers are analyzing the prototypes of the pressure sensors in endurance tests.
There is a broad range of potential applications, with engineers hoping to use the high-temperature pressure sensors not only in the petrochemical environment, but also in automobile engines and geothermal applications.
Dr. Hoc Khiem Trieu | Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
Electrical fields drive nano-machines a 100,000 times faster than previous methods
19.01.2018 | Technische Universität München
ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records
16.01.2018 | Institut für Solarenergieforschung GmbH
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy