Detection and processing strategies for integrated xerogel-based sensor systems
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There has been considerable interest during the last several years, in both the research community and the commercial product sector, in developing portable, efficient sensor systems that are capable of processing complex chemical signals. Examples range from simple hand-held devices to complex integrated systems that process multiple chemical signals, often referred to as electronic noses or electronic tongues. The wide variety of chemical sensing operations and applications has naturally led to the development of a host of chemical sensors and chemical sensing platforms. The research presented here introduces a CMOS detection and processing platform for xerogel-based chemical sensors. The xerogel-based chemical sensor coupled with CMOS electronics offers the potential not only of a portable and efficient sensing system, but also configurability for sensing a variety of (bio)chemical analytes through fluorescence detection. Given a suitable xerogel host and a fluorescent probe that is sensitive to the analyte of interest, the sensing operation and associated processing can be implemented within a compact, portable device that operates using a simple LED light source, integrated circuit detectors and processing electronics. Furthermore, the device is shown to be suitable for basic sensing (e.g. concentration levels), and for more sophisticated analytical methods. Specifically, this system is the first integrated system using CMOS detection and processing electronics to perform fluorescence lifetime detection in the frequency domain, which is a robust measurement technique in the presence of noise and interference sources, and which is ideally suited for portable, highly automated, fast and configurable chemical sensing system.