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Special Issue "Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications"

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A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "Physical Sensors".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 October 2013)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Debbie G. Senesky

Stanford University, Durand Building, MC 4035, Stanford, CA 94305-4035, USA
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +1 650 7233018
Interests: harsh environment sensors; wide bandgap semiconductors; compound semiconductors; high-temperature instrumentation; radiation hardened semiconductors; semiconductor sensors; optical sensors; chemical sensors; micromechanical resonators; energy harvesters; piezoelectricity; microfabrication; nanotechnology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The ability to collect data and transduce signals within harsh environments will change the way we engineer automotive engines, industrial gas turbines, aircrafts and well-bore systems (e.g. geothermal and oil and gas exploration). In addition, harsh-environment sensing will allow us to understand environments that are challenging to assess such as the bottom of the ocean, space environments and the human body.

The limitations in silicon-based microelectronics and nanoelectronics has led researchers to identify new material platforms that can operate and survive within high temperature, high radiation, high shock and chemically corrosive environments for extended periods. As a result, new materials science, advanced process technology and compelling demonstrations of transducers that operate well beyond the operation regimes of silicon have been conducted using wide bandgap semiconductor materials such as silicon carbide, aluminum nitride and gallium nitride. This special issue on “Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications” will provide a critical update on the status of realizing sensors and sensing systems for prohibitive environments. Hence, we solicit review articles and original research papers on materials development, sensor development, electronic devices and energy harvesting for operation within harsh environments. Articles that address manufacturing, packaging and system integration methodologies are also considered.

Dr. Debbie G. Senesky
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sensors is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs).


Keywords

  • sensors for harsh environments
  • high-temperature instrumentation
  • ocean sensors
  • automotive sensors
  • oil and gas sensors
  • sensors for space exploration
  • wide bandgap NEMS and MEMS technology
  • synthesis and analysis of wide bandgap materials
  • high-temperature energy harvesting and conversion devices
  • interface electronics of harsh environment sensors
  • wireless sensor networks for harsh environments
  • structural health monitoring for harsh environments
  • robust packaging for harsh-environment electronics

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review, Other

Open AccessArticle Monitoring of Freeze-Thaw Cycles in Concrete Using Embedded Sensors and Ultrasonic Imaging
Sensors 2014, 14(2), 2280-2304; doi:10.3390/s140202280
Received: 5 December 2013 / Revised: 13 January 2014 / Accepted: 17 January 2014 / Published: 29 January 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (3512 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper deals with the study of damage produced during freeze-thaw (F-T) cycles using two non-destructive measurement approaches—the first approach devoted to continuous monitoring using embedded sensors during the cycles, and the second one, performing ultrasonic imaging before and after the cycles. Both
[...] Read more.
This paper deals with the study of damage produced during freeze-thaw (F-T) cycles using two non-destructive measurement approaches—the first approach devoted to continuous monitoring using embedded sensors during the cycles, and the second one, performing ultrasonic imaging before and after the cycles. Both methodologies have been tested in two different types of concrete specimens, with and without air-entraining agents. Using the first measurement approach, the size and distribution of pores were estimated using a thermoporometrical model and continuous measurements of temperature and ultrasonic velocity along cycles. These estimates have been compared with the results obtained using mercury porosimetry testing. In the second approach, the damage due to F-T cycles has been evaluated by automated ultrasonic transmission and pulse-echo inspections made before and after the cycles. With these inspections the variations in the dimensions, velocity and attenuation caused by the accelerated F-T cycles were determined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)
Open AccessArticle Ultra-Low Power High Temperature and Radiation Hard Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) Voltage Reference
Sensors 2013, 13(12), 17265-17280; doi:10.3390/s131217265
Received: 7 November 2013 / Revised: 5 December 2013 / Accepted: 9 December 2013 / Published: 13 December 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (729 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper presents an ultra-low power CMOS voltage reference circuit which is robust under biomedical extreme conditions, such as high temperature and high total ionized dose (TID) radiation. To achieve such performances, the voltage reference is designed in a suitable 130 nm Silicon-on-Insulator
[...] Read more.
This paper presents an ultra-low power CMOS voltage reference circuit which is robust under biomedical extreme conditions, such as high temperature and high total ionized dose (TID) radiation. To achieve such performances, the voltage reference is designed in a suitable 130 nm Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) industrial technology and is optimized to work in the subthreshold regime of the transistors. The design simulations have been performed over the temperature range of -40–200 °C and for different process corners. Robustness to radiation was simulated using custom model parameters including TID effects, such as mobilities and threshold voltages degradation. The proposed circuit has been tested up to high total radiation dose, i.e., 1 Mrad (Si) performed at three different temperatures (room temperature, 100 °C and 200 °C). The maximum drift of the reference voltage VREF depends on the considered temperature and on radiation dose; however, it remains lower than 10% of the mean value of 1.5 V. The typical power dissipation at 2.5 V supply voltage is about 20 μW at room temperature and only 75 μ W at a high temperature of 200 °C. To understand the effects caused by the combination of high total ionizing dose and temperature on such voltage reference, the threshold voltages of the used SOI MOSFETs were extracted under different conditions. The evolution of VREF and power consumption with temperature and radiation dose can then be explained in terms of the different balance between fixed oxide charge and interface states build-up. The total occupied area including pad-ring is less than 0.09 mm2. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)
Open AccessArticle Temperature Measurement in WTE Boilers Using Suction Pyrometers
Sensors 2013, 13(11), 15633-15655; doi:10.3390/s131115633
Received: 10 September 2013 / Revised: 28 October 2013 / Accepted: 11 November 2013 / Published: 15 November 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1075 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The temperature of the flue-gas in the post combustion zone of a waste to energy (WTE) plant has to be maintained within a fairly narrow range of values, the minimum of which is prescribed by the European Waste Directive 2000/76/CE, whereas the maximum
[...] Read more.
The temperature of the flue-gas in the post combustion zone of a waste to energy (WTE) plant has to be maintained within a fairly narrow range of values, the minimum of which is prescribed by the European Waste Directive 2000/76/CE, whereas the maximum value must be such as to ensure the preservation of the materials and the energy efficiency of the plant. A high degree of accuracy in measuring and controlling the aforementioned temperature is therefore required. In almost the totality of WTE plants this measurement process is carried out by using practical industrial thermometers, such as bare thermocouples and infrared radiation (IR) pyrometers, even if affected by different physical contributions which can make the gas temperature measurements incorrect. The objective of this paper is to analyze errors and uncertainties that can arise when using a bare thermocouple or an IR pyrometer in a WTE plant and to provide a method for the in situ calibration of these industrial sensors through the use of suction pyrometers. The paper describes principle of operation, design, and uncertainty contributions of suction pyrometers, it also provides the best estimation of the flue-gas temperature in the post combustion zone of a WTE plant and the estimation of its expanded uncertainty. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)
Open AccessArticle Development of On-Line Monitoring Systems for High Temperature Components in Power Plants
Sensors 2013, 13(11), 15504-15512; doi:10.3390/s131115504
Received: 22 September 2013 / Revised: 23 October 2013 / Accepted: 23 October 2013 / Published: 13 November 2013
PDF Full-text (583 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
To accurately detect deformation and extend the component life beyond the original design limits, structural safety monitoring techniques have attracted considerable attention in the power and process industries for decades. In this paper an on-line monitoring system for high temperature pipes in a
[...] Read more.
To accurately detect deformation and extend the component life beyond the original design limits, structural safety monitoring techniques have attracted considerable attention in the power and process industries for decades. In this paper an on-line monitoring system for high temperature pipes in a power plant is developed. The extension-based sensing devices are amounted on straight pipes, T-Joints and elbows of a main steam pipeline. During on-site monitoring for more than two years, most of the sensors worked reliably and steadily. However, the direct strain gauge could not work for long periods because of the high temperature environment. Moreover, it is found that the installation and connection of the extensometers can have a significant influence on the measurement results. The on-line monitoring system has a good alarming function which is demonstrated by detecting a steam leakage of the header. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)
Open AccessArticle A Coaxial Cable Fabry-Perot Interferometer for Sensing Applications
Sensors 2013, 13(11), 15252-15260; doi:10.3390/s131115252
Received: 2 September 2013 / Revised: 31 October 2013 / Accepted: 5 November 2013 / Published: 7 November 2013
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (272 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper reports a novel coaxial cable Fabry-Perot interferometer for sensing applications. The sensor is fabricated by drilling two holes half-way into a coaxial cable. The device physics was described. The temperature and strain responses of the sensor were tested. The measurement error
[...] Read more.
This paper reports a novel coaxial cable Fabry-Perot interferometer for sensing applications. The sensor is fabricated by drilling two holes half-way into a coaxial cable. The device physics was described. The temperature and strain responses of the sensor were tested. The measurement error was calculated and analyzed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)
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Open AccessArticle Remote Driven and Read MEMS Sensors for Harsh Environments
Sensors 2013, 13(10), 14175-14188; doi:10.3390/s131014175
Received: 4 September 2013 / Revised: 29 September 2013 / Accepted: 29 September 2013 / Published: 21 October 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (415 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The utilization of high accuracy sensors in harsh environments has been limited by the temperature constraints of the control electronics that must be co-located with the sensor. Several methods of remote interrogation for resonant sensors are presented in this paper which would allow
[...] Read more.
The utilization of high accuracy sensors in harsh environments has been limited by the temperature constraints of the control electronics that must be co-located with the sensor. Several methods of remote interrogation for resonant sensors are presented in this paper which would allow these sensors to be extended to harsh environments. This work in particular demonstrates for the first time the ability to acoustically drive a silicon comb drive resonator into resonance and electromagnetically couple to the resonator to read its frequency. The performance of this system was studied as a function of standoff distance demonstrating the ability to excite and read the device from 22 cm when limited to drive powers of 30 mW. A feedback architecture was implemented that allowed the resonator to be driven into resonance from broadband noise and a standoff distance of 15 cm was demonstrated. It is emphasized that no junction-based electronic device was required to be co-located with the resonator, opening the door for the use of silicon-based, high accuracy MEMS devices in high temperature wireless applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)
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Open AccessArticle A Wireless Passive Pressure Microsensor Fabricated in HTCC MEMS Technology for Harsh Environments
Sensors 2013, 13(8), 9896-9908; doi:10.3390/s130809896
Received: 9 June 2013 / Revised: 16 July 2013 / Accepted: 30 July 2013 / Published: 2 August 2013
Cited by 21 | PDF Full-text (501 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A wireless passive high-temperature pressure sensor without evacuation channel fabricated in high-temperature co-fired ceramics (HTCC) technology is proposed. The properties of the HTCC material ensure the sensor can be applied in harsh environments. The sensor without evacuation channel can be completely gastight. The
[...] Read more.
A wireless passive high-temperature pressure sensor without evacuation channel fabricated in high-temperature co-fired ceramics (HTCC) technology is proposed. The properties of the HTCC material ensure the sensor can be applied in harsh environments. The sensor without evacuation channel can be completely gastight. The wireless data is obtained with a reader antenna by mutual inductance coupling. Experimental systems are designed to obtain the frequency-pressure characteristic, frequency-temperature characteristic and coupling distance. Experimental results show that the sensor can be coupled with an antenna at 600 °C and max distance of 2.8 cm at room temperature. The senor sensitivity is about 860 Hz/bar and hysteresis error and repeatability error are quite low. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)
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Open AccessArticle Breadth-First Search-Based Single-Phase Algorithms for Bridge Detection in Wireless Sensor Networks
Sensors 2013, 13(7), 8786-8813; doi:10.3390/s130708786
Received: 2 May 2013 / Revised: 28 June 2013 / Accepted: 3 July 2013 / Published: 10 July 2013
PDF Full-text (1060 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are promising technologies for exploring harsh environments, such as oceans, wild forests, volcanic regions and outer space. Since sensor nodes may have limited transmission range, application packets may be transmitted by multi-hop communication. Thus, connectivity is a very important
[...] Read more.
Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are promising technologies for exploring harsh environments, such as oceans, wild forests, volcanic regions and outer space. Since sensor nodes may have limited transmission range, application packets may be transmitted by multi-hop communication. Thus, connectivity is a very important issue. A bridge is a critical edge whose removal breaks the connectivity of the network. Hence, it is crucial to detect bridges and take preventions. Since sensor nodes are battery-powered, services running on nodes should consume low energy. In this paper, we propose energy-efficient and distributed bridge detection algorithms for WSNs. Our algorithms run single phase and they are integrated with the Breadth-First Search (BFS) algorithm, which is a popular routing algorithm. Our first algorithm is an extended version of Milic’s algorithm, which is designed to reduce the message length. Our second algorithm is novel and uses ancestral knowledge to detect bridges. We explain the operation of the algorithms, analyze their proof of correctness, message, time, space and computational complexities. To evaluate practical importance, we provide testbed experiments and extensive simulations. We show that our proposed algorithms provide less resource consumption, and the energy savings of our algorithms are up by 5.5-times. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)
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Review

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Open AccessReview High-Temperature Piezoelectric Sensing
Sensors 2014, 14(1), 144-169; doi:10.3390/s140100144
Received: 19 November 2013 / Revised: 10 December 2013 / Accepted: 17 December 2013 / Published: 20 December 2013
Cited by 49 | PDF Full-text (2573 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Piezoelectric sensing is of increasing interest for high-temperature applications in aerospace, automotive, power plants and material processing due to its low cost, compact sensor size and simple signal conditioning, in comparison with other high-temperature sensing techniques. This paper presented an overview of high-temperature
[...] Read more.
Piezoelectric sensing is of increasing interest for high-temperature applications in aerospace, automotive, power plants and material processing due to its low cost, compact sensor size and simple signal conditioning, in comparison with other high-temperature sensing techniques. This paper presented an overview of high-temperature piezoelectric sensing techniques. Firstly, different types of high-temperature piezoelectric single crystals, electrode materials, and their pros and cons are discussed. Secondly, recent work on high-temperature piezoelectric sensors including accelerometer, surface acoustic wave sensor, ultrasound transducer, acoustic emission sensor, gas sensor, and pressure sensor for temperatures up to 1,250 °C were reviewed. Finally, discussions of existing challenges and future work for high-temperature piezoelectric sensing are presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)
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Open AccessReview Metallic and Ceramic Thin Film Thermocouples for Gas Turbine Engines
Sensors 2013, 13(11), 15324-15347; doi:10.3390/s131115324
Received: 30 August 2013 / Revised: 28 October 2013 / Accepted: 30 October 2013 / Published: 8 November 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (2261 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Temperatures of hot section components in today’s gas turbine engines reach as high as 1,500 °C, making in situ monitoring of the severe temperature gradients within the engine rather difficult. Therefore, there is a need to develop instrumentation (i.e., thermocouples and
[...] Read more.
Temperatures of hot section components in today’s gas turbine engines reach as high as 1,500 °C, making in situ monitoring of the severe temperature gradients within the engine rather difficult. Therefore, there is a need to develop instrumentation (i.e., thermocouples and strain gauges) for these turbine engines that can survive these harsh environments. Refractory metal and ceramic thin film thermocouples are well suited for this task since they have excellent chemical and electrical stability at high temperatures in oxidizing atmospheres, they are compatible with thermal barrier coatings commonly employed in today’s engines, they have greater sensitivity than conventional wire thermocouples, and they are non-invasive to combustion aerodynamics in the engine. Thin film thermocouples based on platinum:palladium and indium oxynitride:indium tin oxynitride as well as their oxide counterparts have been developed for this purpose and have proven to be more stable than conventional type-S and type-K thin film thermocouples. The metallic and ceramic thin film thermocouples described within this paper exhibited remarkable stability and drift rates similar to bulk (wire) thermocouples. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)

Other

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessConference Report GNSS Signal Tracking Performance Improvement for Highly Dynamic Receivers by Gyroscopic Mounting Crystal Oscillator
Sensors 2015, 15(9), 21673-21695; doi:10.3390/s150921673
Received: 29 June 2015 / Revised: 21 August 2015 / Accepted: 25 August 2015 / Published: 31 August 2015
PDF Full-text (7307 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, the efficiency of the gyroscopic mounting method is studied for a highly dynamic GNSS receiver’s reference oscillator for reducing signal loss. Analyses are performed separately in two phases, atmospheric and upper atmospheric flights. Results show that the proposed mounting reduces
[...] Read more.
In this paper, the efficiency of the gyroscopic mounting method is studied for a highly dynamic GNSS receiver’s reference oscillator for reducing signal loss. Analyses are performed separately in two phases, atmospheric and upper atmospheric flights. Results show that the proposed mounting reduces signal loss, especially in parts of the trajectory where its probability is the highest. This reduction effect appears especially for crystal oscillators with a low elevation angle g-sensitivity vector. The gyroscopic mounting influences frequency deviation or jitter caused by dynamic loads on replica carrier and affects the frequency locked loop (FLL) as the dominant tracking loop in highly dynamic GNSS receivers. In terms of steady-state load, the proposed mounting mostly reduces the frequency deviation below the one-sigma threshold of FLL (1σFLL). The mounting method can also reduce the frequency jitter caused by sinusoidal vibrations and reduces the probability of signal loss in parts of the trajectory where the other error sources accompany this vibration load. In the case of random vibration, which is the main disturbance source of FLL, gyroscopic mounting is even able to suppress the disturbances greater than the three-sigma threshold of FLL (3σFLL). In this way, signal tracking performance can be improved by the gyroscopic mounting method for highly dynamic GNSS receivers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Harsh-Environment Applications)
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