Date of Award

12-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

Wang, Pingshan

Committee Member

Pearson , L. Wilson

Committee Member

Xu , Xiao-Bang

Committee Member

Rao , Apparao M.

Abstract

In this dissertation, a number of different topics in microwave dielectric property measurements have been covered by a systematic approach to the goals of development of dielectric spectroscopy and study of its high electric field effects with integrated on-chip microwave microfluidic / nanofluidic devices.
A method of parasitic effects cancellation for dielectric property measurement is proposed, analyzed, and experimentally evaluated for microwave characterization of small devices and materials that yield low intensity signals. The method dramatically reduces parasitic effects to uncover the otherwise buried signals. A high-sensitive radio frequency (RF) device is then developed and fabricated to detect small dielectric property changes in microfluidic channel. Sensitivity improvement via on-chip transmission line loss compensation is then analyzed and experimentally demonstrated. Different samples are measured and high sensitivity is achieved compared to conventional transmission-line-based methods.
High DC electric field effects on dielectric properties of water are investigated with microwave microfluidic devices. Gold microstrip-line-based devices and highly-doped silicon microstrip-line-based devices are exploited. Initiation process of water breakdown in a small gap is discussed. Electrode surface roughness is examined and its effect on observed water breakdown is investigated. It is believed that electrode surface roughness is one of critical factors for the initiation process of water breakdown in small gap system. Finally, water dielectric property subjected to uniform DC electric field in 260 nm planar microfluidic channels is experimentally studied via silicon microstrip-line-based devices. When applied DC field is as high as up to ~ 1 MV/cm, the water is sustained and no breakdown is occurred. Strong water dielectric saturation effects are observed from measured water dielectric spectroscopy.
An on-chip, broadband microwave dielectric spectrometer with integrated transmission line and nanofluidic channels is designed, fabricated and characterized through microwave S-parameter measurements. Heavily-doped Si material is used to build the microstrip line to provide broadband characterization capability. 10 nm deep planar Si nanofluidic channels are fabricated through native oxide etch and wafer bonding process. It is the first effort to build the microstrip line with periodically loaded individual sub-10 nm nanofluidic channels to conduct the broadband high frequency characterization of materials within confined space. The functionality of the device is demonstrated by the measurement of DI water. It behaves well and has great potentials on the study of confinement effects of fluids and molecules. Further work includes development of parasitic signal de-embedding procedures for accurate measurements.

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