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Low power, high throughput continuous flow PCR instruments for environmental applications

Description

Continuous monitoring in the adequate temporal and spatial scale is necessary for a better understanding of environmental variations. But field deployments of molecular biological analysis platforms in that scale are currently hindered because of issues with power, throughput and automation.

Continuous monitoring in the adequate temporal and spatial scale is necessary for a better understanding of environmental variations. But field deployments of molecular biological analysis platforms in that scale are currently hindered because of issues with power, throughput and automation. Currently, such analysis is performed by the collection of large sample volumes from over a wide area and transporting them to laboratory testing facilities, which fail to provide any real-time information. This dissertation evaluates the systems currently utilized for in-situ field analyses and the issues hampering the successful deployment of such bioanalytial instruments for environmental applications. The design and development of high throughput, low power, and autonomous Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) instruments, amenable for portable field operations capable of providing quantitative results is presented here as part of this dissertation. A number of novel innovations have been reported here as part of this work in microfluidic design, PCR thermocycler design, optical design and systems integration. Emulsion microfluidics in conjunction with fluorinated oils and Teflon tubing have been used for the fluidic module that reduces cross-contamination eliminating the need for disposable components or constant cleaning. A cylindrical heater has been designed with the tubing wrapped around fixed temperature zones enabling continuous operation. Fluorescence excitation and detection have been achieved by using a light emitting diode (LED) as the excitation source and a photomultiplier tube (PMT) as the detector. Real-time quantitative PCR results were obtained by using multi-channel fluorescence excitation and detection using LED, optical fibers and a 64-channel multi-anode PMT for measuring continuous real-time fluorescence. The instrument was evaluated by comparing the results obtained with those obtained from a commercial instrument and found to be comparable. To further improve the design and enhance its field portability, this dissertation also presents a framework for the instrumentation necessary for a portable digital PCR platform to achieve higher throughputs with lower power. Both systems were designed such that it can easily couple with any upstream platform capable of providing nucleic acid for analysis using standard fluidic connections. Consequently, these instruments can be used not only in environmental applications, but portable diagnostics applications as well.

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2013

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Energy efficient RF transmitter design using enhanced breakdown voltage SOI-CMOS compatible MESFETs

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The high cut-off frequency of deep sub-micron CMOS technologies has enabled the integration of radio frequency (RF) transceivers with digital circuits. However, the challenging point is the integration of RF power amplifiers, mainly due to the low breakdown voltage of

The high cut-off frequency of deep sub-micron CMOS technologies has enabled the integration of radio frequency (RF) transceivers with digital circuits. However, the challenging point is the integration of RF power amplifiers, mainly due to the low breakdown voltage of CMOS transistors. Silicon-on-insulator (SOI) metal semiconductor field effect transistors (MESFETs) have been introduced to remedy the limited headroom concern in CMOS technologies. The MESFETs presented in this thesis have been fabricated on different SOI-CMOS processes without making any change to the standard fabrication steps and offer 2-30 times higher breakdown voltage than the MOSFETs on the same process. This thesis explains the design steps of high efficiency and wideband RF transmitters using the proposed SOI-CMOS compatible MESFETs. This task involves DC and RF characterization of MESFET devices, along with providing a compact Spice model for simulation purposes. This thesis presents the design of several SOI-MESFET RF power amplifiers operating at 433, 900 and 1800 MHz with ~40% bandwidth. Measurement results show a peak power added efficiency (PAE) of 55% and a peak output power of 22.5 dBm. The RF-PAs were designed to operate in Class-AB mode to minimize the linearity degradation. Class-AB power amplifiers lead to poor power added efficiency, especially when fed with signals with high peak to average power ratio (PAPR) such as wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA). Polar transmitters have been introduced to improve the efficiency of RF-PAs at backed-off powers. A MESFET based envelope tracking (ET) polar transmitter was designed and measured. A low drop-out voltage regulator (LDO) was used as the supply modulator of this polar transmitter. MESFETs are depletion mode devices; therefore, they can be configured in a source follower configuration to have better stability and higher bandwidth that MOSFET based LDOs. Measurement results show 350 MHz bandwidth while driving a 10 pF capacitive load. A novel polar transmitter is introduced in this thesis to alleviate some of the limitations associated with polar transmitters. The proposed architecture uses the backgate terminal of a partially depleted transistor on SOI process, which relaxes the bandwidth and efficiency requirements of the envelope amplifier in a polar transmitter. The measurement results of the proposed transmitter demonstrate more than three times PAE improvement at 6-dB backed-off output power, compared to the traditional RF transmitters.

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2012

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Biosensors and CMOS interface circuits

Description

Analysing and measuring of biological or biochemical processes are of utmost importance for medical, biological and biotechnological applications. Point of care diagnostic system, composing of biosensors, have promising applications for providing cheap, accurate and portable diagnosis. Owing to these expanding

Analysing and measuring of biological or biochemical processes are of utmost importance for medical, biological and biotechnological applications. Point of care diagnostic system, composing of biosensors, have promising applications for providing cheap, accurate and portable diagnosis. Owing to these expanding medical applications and advances made by semiconductor industry biosensors have seen a tremendous growth in the past few decades. Also emergence of microfluidics and non-invasive biosensing applications are other marker propellers. Analyzing biological signals using transducers is difficult due to the challenges in interfacing an electronic system to the biological environment. Detection limit, detection time, dynamic range, specificity to the analyte, sensitivity and reliability of these devices are some of the challenges in developing and integrating these devices. Significant amount of research in the field of biosensors has been focused on improving the design, fabrication process and their integration with microfluidics to address these challenges. This work presents new techniques, design and systems to improve the interface between the electronic system and the biological environment. This dissertation uses CMOS circuit design to improve the reliability of these devices. Also this work addresses the challenges in designing the electronic system used for processing the output of the transducer, which converts biological signal into electronic signal.

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2014

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Evaluation and characterization of Silicon MESFETs in low dropout regulators

Description

The partially-depleted (PD) silicon Metal Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor (MESFET) is becoming more and more attractive for analog and RF applications due to its high breakdown voltage. Compared to conventional CMOS high voltage transistors, the silicon MESFET can be fabricated

The partially-depleted (PD) silicon Metal Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor (MESFET) is becoming more and more attractive for analog and RF applications due to its high breakdown voltage. Compared to conventional CMOS high voltage transistors, the silicon MESFET can be fabricated in commercial standard Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) CMOS foundries without any change to the process. The transition frequency of the device is demonstrated to be 45GHz, which makes the MESFET suitable for applications in high power RF power amplifier designs. Also, high breakdown voltage and low turn-on resistance make it the ideal choice for switches in the switching regulator designs. One of the anticipated applications of the MESFET is for the pass device for a low dropout linear regulator. Conventional NMOS and PMOS linear regulators suffer from high dropout voltage, low bandwidth and poor stability issues. In contrast, the N-MESFET pass transistor can provide an ultra-low dropout voltage and high bandwidth without the need for an external compensation capacitor to ensure stability. In this thesis, the design theory and problems of the conventional linear regulators are discussed. N-MESFET low dropout regulators are evaluated and characterized. The error amplifier used a folded cascode architecture with gain boosting. The source follower topology is utilized as the buffer to sink the gate leakage current from the MESFET. A shunt-feedback transistor is added to reduce the output impedance and provide the current adaptively. Measurement results show that the dropout voltage is less than 150 mV for a 1A load current at 1.8V output. Radiation measurements were done for discrete MESFET and fully integrated LDO regulators, which demonstrate their radiation tolerance ability for aerospace applications.

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Date Created
2013

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Codoped zinc oxide by a novel co-spray deposition technique for solar cells applications

Description

Zinc oxide (ZnO), a naturally n-type semiconductor has been identified as a promising candidate to replace indium tin oxide (ITO) as the transparent electrode in solar cells, because of its wide bandgap (3.37 eV), abundant source materials and suitable refractive

Zinc oxide (ZnO), a naturally n-type semiconductor has been identified as a promising candidate to replace indium tin oxide (ITO) as the transparent electrode in solar cells, because of its wide bandgap (3.37 eV), abundant source materials and suitable refractive index (2.0 at 600 nm). Spray deposition is a convenient and low cost technique for large area and uniform deposition of semiconductor thin films. In particular, it provides an easier way to dope the film by simply adding the dopant precursor into the starting solution. In order to reduce the resistivity of undoped ZnO, many works have been done by doping in the ZnO with either group IIIA elements or VIIA elements using spray pyrolysis. However, the resistivity is still too high to meet TCO's resistivity requirement. In the present work, a novel co-spray deposition technique is developed to bypass a fundamental limitation in the conventional spray deposition technique, i.e. the deposition of metal oxides from incompatible precursors in the starting solution. With this technique, ZnO films codoped with one cationic dopant, Al, Cr, or Fe, and an anionic dopant, F, have been successfully synthesized, in which F is incompatible with all these three cationic dopants. Two starting solutions were prepared and co-sprayed through two separate spray heads. One solution contained only the F precursor, NH 4F. The second solution contained the Zn and one cationic dopant precursors, Zn(O 2CCH 3) 2 and AlCl 3, CrCl 3, or FeCl 3. The deposition was carried out at 500 &degC; on soda-lime glass in air. Compared to singly-doped ZnO thin films, codoped ZnO samples showed better electrical properties. Besides, a minimum sheet resistance, 55.4 Ω/sq, was obtained for Al and F codoped ZnO films after vacuum annealing at 400 &degC;, which was lower than singly-doped ZnO with either Al or F. The transmittance for the Al and F codoped ZnO samples was above 90% in the visible range. This co-spray deposition technique provides a simple and cost-effective way to synthesize metal oxides from incompatible precursors with improved properties.

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2013

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Resistance switching in chalcogenide based programmable metallization cells (PMC) and sensors under gamma-rays

Description

Chalcogenide glass (ChG) materials have gained wide attention because of their applications in conductive bridge random access memory (CBRAM), phase change memories (PC-RAM), optical rewritable disks (CD-RW and DVD-RW), microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), microfluidics, and optical communications. One of the significant

Chalcogenide glass (ChG) materials have gained wide attention because of their applications in conductive bridge random access memory (CBRAM), phase change memories (PC-RAM), optical rewritable disks (CD-RW and DVD-RW), microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), microfluidics, and optical communications. One of the significant properties of ChG materials is the change in the resistivity of the material when a metal such as Ag or Cu is added to it by diffusion. This study demonstrates the potential radiation-sensing capabilities of two metal/chalcogenide glass device configurations. Lateral and vertical device configurations sense the radiation-induced migration of Ag+ ions in germanium selenide glasses via changes in electrical resistance between electrodes on the ChG. Before irradiation, these devices exhibit a high-resistance `OFF-state' (in the order of 10E12) but following irradiation, with either 60-Co gamma-rays or UV light, their resistance drops to a low-resistance `ON-state' (around 10E3). Lateral devices have exhibited cyclical recovery with room temperature annealing of the Ag doped ChG, which suggests potential uses in reusable radiation sensor applications. The feasibility of producing inexpensive flexible radiation sensors has been demonstrated by studying the effects of mechanical strain and temperature stress on sensors formed on flexible polymer substrate. The mechanisms of radiation-induced Ag/Ag+ transport and reactions in ChG have been modeled using a finite element device simulator, ATLAS. The essential reactions captured by the simulator are radiation-induced carrier generation, combined with reduction/oxidation for Ag species in the chalcogenide film. Metal-doped ChGs are solid electrolytes that have both ionic and electronic conductivity. The ChG based Programmable Metallization Cell (PMC) is a technology platform that offers electric field dependent resistance switching mechanisms by formation and dissolution of nano sized conductive filaments in a ChG solid electrolyte between oxidizable and inert electrodes. This study identifies silver anode agglomeration in PMC devices following large radiation dose exposure and considers device failure mechanisms via electrical and material characterization. The results demonstrate that by changing device structural parameters, silver agglomeration in PMC devices can be suppressed and reliable resistance switching may be maintained for extremely high doses ranging from 4 Mrad(GeSe) to more than 10 Mrad (ChG).

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2013

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Substrate-independent nanomaterial deposition via hypersonic impaction

Description

In the nano-regime many materials exhibit properties that are quite different from their bulk counterparts. These nano-properties have been shown to be useful in a wide range of applications with nanomaterials being used for catalysts, in energy production, as protective

In the nano-regime many materials exhibit properties that are quite different from their bulk counterparts. These nano-properties have been shown to be useful in a wide range of applications with nanomaterials being used for catalysts, in energy production, as protective coatings, and in medical treatment. While there is no shortage of exciting and novel applications, the world of nanomaterials suffers from a lack of large scale manufacturing techniques. The current methods and equipment used for manufacturing nanomaterials are generally slow, expensive, potentially dangerous, and material specific. The research and widespread use of nanomaterials has undoubtedly been hindered by this lack of appropriate tooling. This work details the effort to create a novel nanomaterial synthesis and deposition platform capable of operating at industrial level rates and reliability.

The tool, referred to as Deppy, deposits material via hypersonic impaction, a two chamber process that takes advantage of compressible fluids operating in the choked flow regime to accelerate particles to up several thousand meters per second before they impact and stick to the substrate. This allows for the energetic separation of the synthesis and deposition processes while still behaving as a continuous flow reactor giving Deppy the unique ability to independently control the particle properties and the deposited film properties. While the ultimate goal is to design a tool capable of producing a broad range of nanomaterial films, this work will showcase Deppy's ability to produce silicon nano-particle films as a proof of concept.

By adjusting parameters in the upstream chamber the particle composition was varied from completely amorphous to highly crystalline as confirmed by Raman spectroscopy. By adjusting parameters in the downstream chamber significant variation of the film's density was achieved. Further it was shown that the system is capable of making these adjustments in each chamber without affecting the operation of the other.

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2015

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Characterization of interface state in silicon carbide metal oxide semiconductor capacitors

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Silicon carbide (SiC) has always been considered as an excellent material for high temperature and high power devices. Since SiC is the only compound semiconductor whose native oxide is silicon dioxide (SiO2), it puts SiC in a unique position. Although

Silicon carbide (SiC) has always been considered as an excellent material for high temperature and high power devices. Since SiC is the only compound semiconductor whose native oxide is silicon dioxide (SiO2), it puts SiC in a unique position. Although SiC metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) technology has made significant progress in recent years, there are still a number of issues to be overcome before more commercial SiC devices can enter the market. The prevailing issues surrounding SiC MOSFET devices are the low channel mobility, the low quality of the oxide layer and the high interface state density at the SiC/SiO2 interface. Consequently, there is a need for research to be performed in order to have a better understanding of the factors causing the poor SiC/SiO2 interface properties. In this work, we investigated the generation lifetime in SiC materials by using the pulsed metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) capacitor method and measured the interface state density distribution at the SiC/SiO2 interface by using the conductance measurement and the high-low frequency capacitance technique. These measurement techniques have been performed on n-type and p-type SiC MOS capacitors. In the course of our investigation, we observed fast interface states at semiconductor-dielectric interfaces in SiC MOS capacitors that underwent three different interface passivation processes, such states were detected in the nitrided samples but not observed in PSG-passivated samples. This result indicate that the lack of fast states at PSG-passivated interface is one of the main reasons for higher channel mobility in PSG MOSFETs. In addition, the effect of mobile ions in the oxide on the response time of interface states has been investigated. In the last chapter we propose additional methods of investigation that can help elucidate the origin of the particular interface states, enabling a more complete understanding of the SiC/SiO2 material system.

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2015

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Study of self-heating effects in GaN HEMTs

Description

GaN high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) based on the III-V nitride material system have been under extensive investigation because of their superb performance as high power RF devices. Two dimensional electron gas(2-DEG) with charge density ten times higher than that

GaN high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) based on the III-V nitride material system have been under extensive investigation because of their superb performance as high power RF devices. Two dimensional electron gas(2-DEG) with charge density ten times higher than that of GaAs-based HEMT and mobility much higher than Si enables a low on-resistance required for RF devices. Self-heating issues with GaN HEMT and lack of understanding of various phenomena are hindering their widespread commercial development. There is a need to understand device operation by developing a model which could be used to optimize electrical and thermal characteristics of GaN HEMT design for high power and high frequency operation. In this thesis work a physical simulation model of AlGaN/GaN HEMT is developed using commercially available software ATLAS from SILVACO Int. based on the energy balance/hydrodynamic carrier transport equations. The model is calibrated against experimental data. Transfer and output characteristics are the key focus in the analysis along with saturation drain current. The resultant IV curves showed a close correspondence with experimental results. Various combinations of electron mobility, velocity saturation, momentum and energy relaxation times and gate work functions were attempted to improve IV curve correlation. Thermal effects were also investigated to get a better understanding on the role of self-heating effects on the electrical characteristics of GaN HEMTs. The temperature profiles across the device were observed. Hot spots were found along the channel in the gate-drain spacing. These preliminary results indicate that the thermal effects do have an impact on the electrical device characteristics at large biases even though the amount of self-heating is underestimated with respect to thermal particle-based simulations that solve the energy balance equations for acoustic and optical phonons as well (thus take proper account of the formation of the hot-spot). The decrease in drain current is due to decrease in saturation carrier velocity. The necessity of including hydrodynamic/energy balance transport models for accurate simulations is demonstrated. Possible ways for improving model accuracy are discussed in conjunction with future research.

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2013

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Distributed inference using bounded transmissions

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Distributed inference has applications in a wide range of fields such as source localization, target detection, environment monitoring, and healthcare. In this dissertation, distributed inference schemes which use bounded transmit power are considered. The performance of the proposed schemes are

Distributed inference has applications in a wide range of fields such as source localization, target detection, environment monitoring, and healthcare. In this dissertation, distributed inference schemes which use bounded transmit power are considered. The performance of the proposed schemes are studied for a variety of inference problems. In the first part of the dissertation, a distributed detection scheme where the sensors transmit with constant modulus signals over a Gaussian multiple access channel is considered. The deflection coefficient of the proposed scheme is shown to depend on the characteristic function of the sensing noise, and the error exponent for the system is derived using large deviation theory. Optimization of the deflection coefficient and error exponent are considered with respect to a transmission phase parameter for a variety of sensing noise distributions including impulsive ones. The proposed scheme is also favorably compared with existing amplify-and-forward (AF) and detect-and-forward (DF) schemes. The effect of fading is shown to be detrimental to the detection performance and simulations are provided to corroborate the analytical results. The second part of the dissertation studies a distributed inference scheme which uses bounded transmission functions over a Gaussian multiple access channel. The conditions on the transmission functions under which consistent estimation and reliable detection are possible is characterized. For the distributed estimation problem, an estimation scheme that uses bounded transmission functions is proved to be strongly consistent provided that the variance of the noise samples are bounded and that the transmission function is one-to-one. The proposed estimation scheme is compared with the amplify and forward technique and its robustness to impulsive sensing noise distributions is highlighted. It is also shown that bounded transmissions suffer from inconsistent estimates if the sensing noise variance goes to infinity. For the distributed detection problem, similar results are obtained by studying the deflection coefficient. Simulations corroborate our analytical results. In the third part of this dissertation, the problem of estimating the average of samples distributed at the nodes of a sensor network is considered. A distributed average consensus algorithm in which every sensor transmits with bounded peak power is proposed. In the presence of communication noise, it is shown that the nodes reach consensus asymptotically to a finite random variable whose expectation is the desired sample average of the initial observations with a variance that depends on the step size of the algorithm and the variance of the communication noise. The asymptotic performance is characterized by deriving the asymptotic covariance matrix using results from stochastic approximation theory. It is shown that using bounded transmissions results in slower convergence compared to the linear consensus algorithm based on the Laplacian heuristic. Simulations corroborate our analytical findings. Finally, a robust distributed average consensus algorithm in which every sensor performs a nonlinear processing at the receiver is proposed. It is shown that non-linearity at the receiver nodes makes the algorithm robust to a wide range of channel noise distributions including the impulsive ones. It is shown that the nodes reach consensus asymptotically and similar results are obtained as in the case of transmit non-linearity. Simulations corroborate our analytical findings and highlight the robustness of the proposed algorithm.

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2013