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Lester French,
NSF Graduate Fellow

NSF GK-12 Project: University of Maine
Track II: GK-12 Sensors!
URL: http://www.eece.maine.edu/research/gk12/

Thesis Title: A Theoretical Model of a Lateral Field Excited (LFE) Sensor

College/University: University of Maine

Research Advisor: John Vetelino

Degree Sought  

University Department and/or Lab  
Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology

Research Focus 
Develop a theoretical describing the behavior of an LFE sensor in response to mechanical (viscosity), and electrical (conductivity, permittivity) property changes of a solution

Description of Research
The proposed focus of study is to develop a model for the LFE sensor for gas- and liquid-phase sensing applications. Specifically, a general equivalent circuit model will be developed so that the behavior of the LFE sensor to mechanical and electrical property changes of the analyte can be predicted. This model will start with the transmission line model developed by Ballato, et al. for LFE filters. The general equivalent circuit will be modified for liquid-phase sensing applications. The modified equivalent circuit will be developed for both Maxwellian and Newtonian fluids. The equivalent circuit models will be developed using MATLAB. The analysis software will be developed so that it may be applied to a chosen orientation of a given piezoelectric material with known elastic, piezoelectric, and permittivity parameters.

The model will be verified by exposing LFE sensors to a variety of fluids with known mechanical and electrical properties. The results of the experiments will be compared to those predicted by the model and any necessary modifications to the model will be made.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience
One activity that I used in High School Physics classes was to build a falling-ball viscometer using a metal sphere and 1 liter graduated cylinder and measure the viscosity of water, vegetable oil, and motor oil. The students measured the mass and diameter of the sphere, and the time it took for the sphere to fall through the liquid between two predetermined points. It was assumed that the sphere between the two points was at terminal velocity. This relates to my research in that I verify the viscosity of liquids that I use in LFE experiments with a Brookfield capillary viscometer. The students were surprised that such a basic setup yielded a viscosity for water that was within 5% of 1 cP, the approximate value at standard temperature and pressure.

Profile date: March 2007
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