Conducting polymer-based QCM-interdigitated electrode hybrid electronic nose system
This research project was concerned with the establishment and characterisation of a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) - conductimetric interdigitated electrode hybrid "second generation" Electronic Nose system. Research objectives covered a number of technical limitations and analytical difficulties existed in the "first generation" Electronic Nose system. A wide variety of work was carried out, including the design and fabrication of the electronic nose system, the optimisation of sensors response, the device modelling, the studies of vapour-polymer interaction mechanisms and the application of the electronic nose in multi-component analysis. A QCM-interdigitated electrode hybrid sensor odour measurement system was established, and sensor fabrication techniques developed. Some important parameters corresponding to sensor characteristics were investigated such as the conditions for polymer film polymerisation. By studying 16 different coatings, "optimal" individual initial resistances were proposed, which minimise long-term baseline resistance drift, whilst maintaining good sensitivity. A set of sensors was made with low initial resistance variation. Sensor detection dynamic range was found to be dependent on the type of the coating material and the film thickness. The response of a combined hybrid sensor pair remained stable during a test period of 45 days, which showed an improved stability. The principle of the sensor's response and device modelling were addressed. The vapour-polymer interactions and sensor pair's response were linked by a sensitivity coefficient (S), which was defined as the relative resistivity change by a single molecule absorbed into the polymer film. A pair of sensors showing concentration independence over a wide concentration range can be formed on separate QCM and interdigitated electrodes with the same polymer. The combined response (Srf) can be used to identify a particular vapour. Based on the concentration independence, the proposed "odour maps" showed the feasibility of distinguishing odourants using a significantly lower number of different types of sensor coatings. This demonstrated the improved selectivity of a hybrid system compared with the single property system.