Microfabricated hydrogen sensor technology for aerospace and commercial applications

Gary W. Hunter, R. L. Bickford, E. D. Jansa, D. B. Makel, C. C. Liu, Q. R. Wu, W. T. Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Leaks on the Space Shuttle while on the Launch Pad have generated interest in hydrogen leak monitoring technology. An effective leak monitoring system requires reliable hydrogen sensors, hardware, and software to monitor the sensors. The system should process the sensor outputs and provide real4ime leak monitoring information to the operator. This paper discusses the progress in developing such a complete leak monitoring system. Advanced microfabricated hydrogen sensors are being fabricated at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and tested at NASA Lewis Research Center (LeRC) and Gencorp Aerojet (Aerojet). Changes in the hydrogen concentrations are detected using a PdAg on silicon Schottky diode structure. Sensor temperature control is achieved with a temperature sensor and heater fabricated onto the sensor chip. Results of the characterization of these sensors are presented. These sensors can detect low concentrations of hydrogen in inert environments with high sensitivity and quick response time. Aerojet is developing the hardware and software for a multipoint leak monitoring system designed to provide leak source and magnitude information in real time. The monitoring system processes data from the hydrogen sensors and presents the operator with a visual indication of the leak location and magnitude. Work has commenced on integrating the NASA LCRCCWRU hydrogen sensors with the Aerojet designed monitoring system. Although the leak monitoring system was designed for hydrogen propulsion systems, the possible applications of this monitoring system are wide ranged. Possible commercialization of the system will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 4 Oct 1994
EventNASA/SPIE Conference on Spin-Off Technologies from NASA for Commercial Sensors and Scientific Applications 1994 - San Diego, United States
Duration: 24 Jul 199429 Jul 1994


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