Planar indium tin oxide heater for improved thermal distribution for metal oxide micromachined gas sensors
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Metal oxide gas sensors with integrated micro-hotplate structures are widely used in the industry and they are still being investigated and developed. Metal oxide gas sensors have the advantage of being sensitive to a wide range of organic and inorganic volatile compounds, although they lack selectivity. To introduce selectivity, the operating temperature of a single sensor is swept, and the measurements are fed to a discriminating algorithm. The efficiency of those data processing methods strongly depends on temperature uniformity across the active area of the sensor. To achieve this, hot plate structures with complex resistor geometries have been designed and additional heat-spreading structures have been introduced. In this work we designed and fabricated a metal oxide gas sensor integrated with a simple square planar indium tin oxide (ITO) heating element, by using conventional micromachining and thin-film deposition techniques. Power consumption-dependent surface temperature measurements were performed. A 420 °C working temperature was achieved at 120 mW power consumption. Temperature distribution uniformity was measured and a 17 °C difference between the hottest and the coldest points of the sensor at an operating temperature of 290 °C was achieved. Transient heat-up and cool-down cycle durations are measured as 40 ms and 20 ms, respectively. © 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.