Shape memory polymer resonators as highly sensitive uncooled infrared detectors

Uncooled infrared detectors have enabled the rapid growth of thermal imaging applications. These detectors are predominantly bolometers, reading out a pixel’s temperature change due to infrared radiation as a resistance change. Another uncooled sensing method is to transduce the infrared radiation into the frequency shift of a mechanical resonator. We present here highly sensitive resonant infrared sensors, based on thermo-responsive shape memory polymers. By exploiting the phase-change polymer as transduction mechanism, our approach provides 2 orders of magnitude improvement of the temperature coefficient of frequency. Noise equivalent temperature difference of 22 mK in vacuum and 112 mK in air are obtained using f/2 optics. The noise equivalent temperature difference is further improved to 6 mK in vacuum by using high-Q silicon nitride membranes as substrates for the shape memory polymers. This high performance in air eliminates the need for vacuum packaging, paving a path towards flexible non-hermetically sealed infrared sensors

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Nature Communications, 10, 4518
Oct 04 2019
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 Record created 2019-10-04, last modified 2020-04-20

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