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
Researchers take next step toward fusion energy
16.11.2017 | Texas A&M University
Desert solar to fuel centuries of air travel
16.11.2017 | SolarPACES
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses