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Proceedings Paper

Carbon nanotube sensors integrated inside a microfluidic channel for water quality monitoring
Author(s): Yu Liu; Xinghui Li; Mehmet R. Dokmeci; Ming L. Wang
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Paper Abstract

Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) with their unique electrical properties and large surface area are remarkable materials for detecting low concentration of toxic and hazardous chemicals (both from the gaseous and liquid phases). Ionic adsorbates in water will attach on to SWNTs and drastically alter their electrical properties. Several SWNTs based pH and chemical sensors have been demonstrated. However, most of them require external components to test and analyze the response of SWNTs to ions inside the liquid samples. Here, we report a water quality monitoring sensor composed of SWNTs integrated inside microfluidic channels and on-chip testing components with a wireless transmission board. To detect multiple analytes in water requires the functionalization of SWNTs with different chemistries. In addition, microfluidic channels are used to guide liquid samples to individual nanotube sensors in an efficient manner. Furthermore, the microfluidic system enables sample mixing and separation before testing. To realize the nanosensors, first microelectrodes were fabricated on an oxidized silicon substrate. Next, PDMS micro channels were fabricated and bonded on the substrate. These channels can be incorporated with a microfluidic system which can be designed to manipulate different analytes for specific molecule detection. Low temperature, solution based Dielectrophoretic (DEP) assembly was conducted inside this microfluidic system which successfully bridged SWNTs between the microelectrodes. The SWNTs sensors were next characterized with different pH buffer solutions. The resistance of SWNTs had a linearly increase as the pH values ranged from 5 to 8. The nanosensor incorporated within the microfluidic system is a versatile platform and can be utilized to detect numerous water pollutants, including toxic organics and microorganisms down to low concentrations. On-chip processing and wireless transmission enables the realization of a full autonomous system for real time monitoring of water quality.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 April 2011
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 7981, Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2011, 79811I (13 April 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.880142
Show Author Affiliations
Yu Liu, Northeastern Univ. (United States)
Xinghui Li, Northeastern Univ. (United States)
Mehmet R. Dokmeci, Northeastern Univ. (United States)
Ming L. Wang, Northeastern Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7981:
Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2011
Masayoshi Tomizuka, Editor(s)

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