Journal cover Journal topic
Journal of Sensors and Sensor Systems An open-access peer-reviewed journal
J. Sens. Sens. Syst., 6, 367-374, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/jsss-6-367-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Regular research article
16 Nov 2017
Concept for a MEMS-type vacuum sensor based on electrical conductivity measurements
Friederike Julia Giebel1, Marcel Köhle2, Till Stramm2, Klaus T. Kallis1, and Horst L. Fiedler2 1Micro- and Nanoelectronic Devices, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, TU Dortmund University, Dortmund 44227, Germany
2Intelligent Microsystems Institute, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, TU Dortmund University, Dortmund 44227, Germany
Abstract. The concept of the micro-structured vacuum sensor presented in this article is the measurement of the electrical conductivity of thinned gases in order to develop a small, economical and quite a simple type of vacuum sensor. There are already some approaches for small vacuum sensors. Most of them are based on conservative measurement principles similar to those used in macroscopic vacuum gauges. Ionization gauges use additional sources of energy, like hot cathodes, ultraviolet radiation or high voltage for example, for ionizing gas molecules and thereby increasing the number of charge carriers for measuring low pressures. In contrast, the concept discussed here cannot be found in macroscopic sensor systems because it depends on the microscopic dimension of a gas volume defined by two electrodes. Here we present the concept and the production of a micro-structured vacuum sensor chip, followed by the electrical characterization. Reference measurements with electrodes at a distance of about 1 mm showed currents in the size of picoampere and a conductivity depending on ambient pressure. In comparison with these preliminary measurements, fundamental differences regarding pressure dependence of the conductivity are monitored in the electrical characterization of the micro-structured sensor chip. Finally the future perspectives of this sensor concept are discussed.

Citation: Giebel, F. J., Köhle, M., Stramm, T., Kallis, K. T., and Fiedler, H. L.: Concept for a MEMS-type vacuum sensor based on electrical conductivity measurements, J. Sens. Sens. Syst., 6, 367-374, https://doi.org/10.5194/jsss-6-367-2017, 2017.

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This article introduces a new idea for a micro vacuum sensor. The measuring principle of the sensor is to measure the electrical conductivity of the residual gas in a vacuum chamber. The conductivity is measured between two electrodes that are only 300 nm apart. It has been shown that this type of sensor allows vacuum pressure measurement from atmospheric pressure to high vacuum at very low voltages.
This article introduces a new idea for a micro vacuum sensor. The measuring principle of the...
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