Journal article

A concept of wireless and passive very-high temperature sensor

There is a need for sensors capable operating at temperatures above 1000 degrees C. We describe an innovative sensor that might achieve this goal. The sensor comprises two main elements: a thermocouple and a surface acoustic wave (SAW) strain sensor. The cold junction of the thermocouple is electrically connected to a highly piezoelectric thin layer, deposited on top of a SAW substrate. In operation, the voltage generated by the temperature gradient between the hot (> 1000 degrees C) and cold junction (< 350 degrees C) generates a strain field in the layer, which is mechanically transmitted to the substrate. This modifies the SAW propagation conditions and therefore the sensors' radiofrequency response. The change depends on the applied voltage and thus on the hot junction temperature. As SAW devices are passive elements that can be remotely interrogated, it becomes possible to infer the hot junction temperature from the radiofrequency response, i.e., to remotely read temperatures above 1000 degrees C, without embedded electronics. In this paper, we demonstrate the feasibility of this concept, using AlN layers deposited on Y-Z Lithium Niobate (LN). The achieved sensitivity of 80 Hz/V at 400MHz is constant over a wide voltage range. Numerical simulations were performed to compute the main properties of the demonstrators and suggest optimization strategies. Improvements are expected from the use of stronger piezoelectric layers, such as AlScN or Pb(Ti, Zr)O-3 (PZT), which could increase the sensitivity by factors of 3 and 20, as estimated from their transverse piezoelectric coefficients. As a first step in this direction, thin PZT layers have been deposited on Y-Z LN.


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