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Development of a Wireless Temperature Sensor Using Polymer-Derived Ceramics

A temperature sensor has been developed using an embedded system and a sensor head made of polymer-derived SiAlCN ceramics (PDCs). PDC is a promising material for measuring high temperature and the embedded system features low-power consumption, compact size, and wireless temperature monitor. The developed temperature sensor has been experimentally tested to demonstrate the possibility of using such sensors for real world applications.

1. Introduction

Accurate temperature measurements are crucial for many applications, such as chemical processing, power generation, and engine monitoring. As a result, development of temperature sensors has always been a focus of microsensor field. A variety of materials have been studied for temperature sensor applications, for example, semiconducting silicon and silicon carbide. Silicon based sensors are typically used at temperatures lower than 350°C due to accelerated material degradation at higher temperature [1, 2]. Silicon carbide based sensors are better than silicon based sensors in high temperature measurement and can be applied in temperatures up to 500°C [3–5].

Polymer-derived SiAlCN ceramics (PDCs) are another widely studied material that demonstrate properties such as excellent high temperature stability [6] as well as good oxidation/corrosion resistance [7]. PDCs have been considered as a promising material for measuring high temperature [8]. Our early works have showed that PDC sensor head can accurately measure high temperature up to 830°C [9] using data acquisition system from National Instruments. The cost and size of the sensor system must be significantly reduced before it can be deployed for real world applications. In this paper, we develop a temperature sensor using PDC and an embedded system. Comparing to the National Instruments data acquisition equipment used in the previous paper, the newly developed embedded sensor is much smaller (9.7 dm3 versus 0.3 dm3), lighter (5.97 kg versus 0.19 kg), and cheaper (approximately $8000 versus $170). A WiFi module is also added so the temperature measurement can be transmitted wirelessly. The embedded board and WiFi module used in this paper are commercially available. The experiments in this paper demonstrate the possibility of deploying PDC based sensors for real world applications.

2. Fabrication of the PDC Sensor Head

In this study, the PDC sensor head is fabricated by following the procedure reported previously [9]. In brief, 8.8 g of commercially available liquid-phased polysilazane (HTT1800, Kion) and 1.0 g of aluminum-tri-sec-butoxide (ASB, Sigma-Aldrich) are first reacted together at 120°C for 24 hours under constant magnetic stirring to form the liquid precursor for SiAlCN. The precursor is then cooled down to room temperature, followed by adding 0.2 g of dicumyl peroxide (DP) into the liquid under sonication for 30 minutes. DP is the thermal initiator which can lower the solidification temperature and tailor the electrical properties [10]. The resultant liquid mixture is solidified by heat-treatment at 150°C for 24 hours. The disk-shaped green bodies are then prepared by ball-milling the solid into fine powder of ~1 μm and subsequently uniaxially pressing. A rectangular-shaped sample is cut from the discs and pyrolyzed at 1000°C for 4 hours. The entire fabrication is carried out in high-purity nitrogen to avoid any possible contamination.

High temperature sensors capable of operating in harsh environments are needed in order to prevent disasters caused by structural or system functional failures due to increasing temperatures. Most existing temperature sensors do not satisfy the needs because they require either physical contact or a battery power supply for signal communication, and furthermore, neither of them can withstand high temperatures nor rotating applications. This paper presents a novel passive wireless temperature sensor, suitable for working in harsh environments for high temperature rotating component monitoring. A completely passive LC resonant telemetry scheme, relying on a frequency variation output, which has been applied successfully in pressure, humidity and chemical measurement, is integrated with a unique high-k temperature sensitive ceramic material, in order to measure the temperatures without contacts, active elements, or power supplies within the sensor. In this paper, the high temperature sensor design and performance analysis are conducted based on mechanical and electrical modeling, in order to maximize the sensing distance, the Q factor and the sensitivity. In the end, the sensor prototype is fabricated and calibrated successfully up to 235ºC, so that the concept of temperature sensing through passive wireless communication is proved. 

This paper aims to develop a prototype for a web-based wireless remote temperature monitoring device for patients. This device uses a patient and coordinator set design approach involving the measurement, transmission, receipt and recording of patients’ temperatures via the MiWi wireless meter iot solution. The results of experimental tests on the proposed system indicated a wider distance coverage and reasonable temperature resolution and standard deviation. The system could display the temperature and patient information remotely via a graphical-user interface as shown in the tests on three healthy participants. By continuously monitoring participants’ temperatures, this device will likely improve the quality of the health care of the patients in normal ward as less human workload is involved.

Body temperature can be used to monitor the pain level of a patient following an operation [4] or after shoulder endoprosthesis [5]. In some cases, the tissue transient temperature was monitored during microwave liver ablation [6] for the treatment of liver metastases. Instead of using a temperature sensor, pulse-echo ultrasound [7] was used to visualize changes in the temperature of the patient’s body. In addition, a non-contact temperature-measuring device, such as a thermal imaging camera [8], was successfully used to detect human body temperature during the SARS outbreak. However, it can be quite expensive to equip each patient room with a thermal imaging camera. In addition, there are a few wireless temperature measuring solution (e.g., CADIT™, Primex™, and TempTrak™) on the market that are used to monitor and store a patient’s temperature for medical research by using body sensor networks [9]. Most of these systems consist of an electronic module and a temperature-sensing device. The systems include a stand-alone electronic module with a display screen that allows the temperature sensor data to be transmitted over a secure wireless network.

Hence, a medical device to continuously measure the body temperature of patients using a wireless temperature receiver [4,11,12] is required. With such a wireless temperature sensor system, nurses will no longer have to manually measure the temperature of patients, which will free their time for other tasks and also reduce the risk associated with coming into contact with patients with contagious diseases, such as SARS. The readings will be transmitted wirelessly to the central nurse station, where they can be monitored by the staff-on-duty. In addition, the current and past history of the body temperature measurements can be stored in an online database, which allows the medical staff to access the database when they are not in the hospital.

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