Maintaining transparency of a heated MEMs membrane for enabling long-term optical measurements on soot-containing exhaust gas

Luke M. Middelburg*, Mohammadamir Ghaderi, David Bilby, Jaco H. Visser, Guo Qi Zhang, Per Lundgren, Peter Enoksson, Reinoud F. Wolffenbuttel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Ensuring optical transparency over a wide spectral range of a window with a view into the tailpipe of the combustion engine, while it is exposed to the harsh environment of sootcontaining exhaust gas, is an essential pre-requisite for introducing optical techniques for long-term monitoring of automotive emissions. Therefore, a regenerable window composed of an optically transparent polysilicon-carbide membrane with a diameter ranging from 100 µm up to 2000 µm has been fabricated in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. In the first operating mode, window transparency is periodically restored by pulsed heating of the membrane using an integrated resistor for heating to temperatures that result in oxidation of deposited soot (600–700 °C). In the second mode, the membrane is kept transparent by repelling soot particles using thermophoresis. The same integrated resistor is used to yield a temperature gradient by continuous moderate-temperature heating. Realized devices have been subjected to laboratory soot exposure experiments. Membrane temperatures exceeding 500 °C have been achieved without damage to the membrane. Moreover, heating of membranes to ΔT = 40 °C above gas temperature provides sufficient thermophoretic repulsion to prevent particle deposition and maintain transparency at high soot exposure, while non-heated identical membranes on the same die and at the same exposure are heavily contaminated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Heated silicon carbide window
  • On-board diagnostics
  • Optical automotive instrumentation
  • Optical MEMS
  • Surface regeneration from soot deposits
  • Suspended membranes
  • Thermophoretic repulsion of soot


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