IDBR: TYPE B: High temperature MEMS flow controller for MEMS enabled chopper-modulated gas chromatography - electroantennography (MEMS- GC-EAG) and other GC applications

Project: Research project

Project Details


An award is made to the Pennsylvania State University to develop a microfabricated high-temperature flow control device for gas chromatography (GC) applications that will benefit agriculture and forestry to better target invasive species and pests.

Non Technical Abstract:

The device will enable a technique named chopper-modulated electroantennograph (EAG), which uses GC to separate volatile odorants, and insect antennae as detectors to identify specific compounds that are of importance to, and able to be sensed by the insect. As a result of millions of years of evolution, insect antennae are capable of detecting certain chemicals more sensitively and specifically than artificial chemical sensors. The chopper-modulated GC-EAG method will use the proposed flow control device to regulate gas flow in GC and improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the EAG, with a resulting several orders of magnitude improvement in detection sensitivity for behaviorally important volatile chemicals. The use of the proposed device in other GC applications can potentially contribute to the general chemical sensing community and benefit the society with more sensitive analysis for environmental monitoring, food safety, disease diagnostics and etc. The education plan includes student training and curriculum development. The instrument will also be integrated into various outreach activities including the annual PSU 'Great Insect Fair', at which attendance routinely surpasses 8,000 people annually.

Technical Abstract:

The overall goal of the research is to develop a high temperature microelectromechanical system (MEMS) flow controller (HT-MEMS flow controller) whose purpose is to operate inside a conventional gas chromatography (GC) oven to enable chopper-modulated electroantennograph (EAG) − MEMS- GC-EAG as well as other GC applications. This project aims to develop and lead to commercialization of the HT-MEMS flow controller to (1) implement chopper stabilization for GC-EAG, which holds the promise of improving the sensitivity of the current GC-EAG system by orders of magnitude; (2) explore applications of the instrument in broader chemical sensing areas, including other GC detectors beyond EAG and two dimensional GC (2D-GC). Apart from resulting publications and presentations at workshops and meetings, the technology will be disseminated through a partnership with GC equipment manufacturers and distributors.

Effective start/end date8/1/147/31/17


  • National Science Foundation: $443,257.00


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