Partnering opportunity

A highly sensitive quartz temperature sensor – a method of manufacturing

Summary

Bulgarian academic research institute is developed innovative technology for production of highly sensitive quartz resonators, potentially applicable to thermal control even in the range of cryogenic temperatures. The sensor, ready for production, could be used in devices for accurate temperature measuring with high sensitivity and reliability. The team seeks collaboration with EU research institutions and companies for developing devices transforming frequency response into a temperature.

Partner sought

A European company interested in the design, development and fabrication of electronic measurement instruments.

Description

An innovative design and technology for manufacturing high-quality quartz temperature sensors is created in Acoustoelectronics Laboratory as a part of Bulgarian academic institute for fundamental and applied research. The proposed device configuration is based on a thermosensitive quartz resonator new linear coefficient–cut, whose resonance frequency strongly depends on the ambient temperature. A precise temperature–frequency analyses of the quartz transducers is done. For this purpose the temperature-frequency dependence or the so called temperature-frequency characteristics is measured. The used equipment includes a frequency meter with an instability better than 10-9 h-1, a precise thermostat with a gradient of temperature field less than 0.050C, a measuring generator and an electronic quartz thermometer with sensitivity 0.0010C and accuracy of measurement 0.040C. Temperature fluctuations as well as the gradient of temperature field are additionally diminished by putting the investigated sample and the sensor of the quartz thermometer in an aluminium block, which is placed in the working chamber of the thermostat. It is established that the sensor operates in a wide temperature range, including cryogenic temperatures (4.2 K – 470 K). It means that only one sensor is enough for measuring in the whole above mentioned temperature range. Moreover, it has high temperature sensitivity (up to 10-4 K) and excellent short- and long-term frequency stability, allowing steady-state operation for more than 15 years. Furthermore, the output sensor signal is suitable for digital processing. The main shortcoming of the sensor, preventing its wide usability as a measurement tool for subtle temperature control, is the lack of suitable sensor electronics including electronic devices – quartz oscillator, frequency measurement unit, microprocessor module transforming the frequency signals into temperature. The today's market for temperature measuring devices still provides measurement precision ranging within ~1 оС or several tenths of a degree. For that purpose, commercially available and relatively inexpensive sensors based on different physical principles are used. Almost all of them generate an analog signal (a change of resistance or current) depending on the temperature deviation. The received signals are weak and strongly depend on external electric and magnetic fields, limiting their sensitivity and resolution. Essential improvement in this regard can be achieved by employing additional bridge circuits. However, these circuits can sometimes weaken the output signal and insert measurement errors. The development of electronic devices for receiving, measuring and transforming the frequency signals into temperature will give an opportunity to replace most of the old analog sensors with the innovative quartz temperature counterparts. This will substantially enhance the level of reliability of the devices for temperature control and measurement. The new electronic device could also be successfully applied to other kind of sensors, e.g. for the detection of hazardous and toxic substances, small particles of various fossil fuels or waste materials in the environment. The development and organizing regular production of new sensor electronics for temperature sensors with frequency output requires additional financial and human resource. For small firms such a task having unclear market realization is risky and hardly achievable without additional financing. To provide a long-term perspective for technological development of sensor electronics and instrument-building there is a need of European politics and financial support by the EU programs for science and technological growth. The specified problem can’t be solved only by the quartz sensor makers. Because of that they are looking for any type of international collaboration to solve the above problem.

Advantages and innovations

• A wide dynamic range, including cryogenic temperatures (4.2 K – 470 K). • High temperature sensitivity (up to 0.0002 оС). • Independence of strong radiation, electrical and magnetic fields. • High signal to noise ratio and a frequency output signal ideally suitable for digital processing. • Excellent long-term stability ensuring stable sensor performance without frequently (additional) calibration. • Lower price and smaller size compared to previous counterparts.

Development stage

Prototype available for demonstration

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patents granted


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