Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Paul L Bergstrom


This work presents an innovative integration of sensing and nano-scaled fluidic actuation in the combination of pH sensitive optical dye immobilization with the electro-osmotic phenomena in polar solvents like water for flow-through pH measurements. These flow-through measurements are performed in a flow-through sensing device (FTSD) configuration that is designed and fabricated at MTU.

A relatively novel and interesting material, through-wafer mesoporous silica substrates with pore diameters of 20 -200 nm and pore depths of 500 µm are fabricated and implemented for electro-osmotic pumping and flow-through fluorescence sensing for the first time. Performance characteristics of macroporous silicon (> 500 µm) implemented for electro-osmotic pumping include, a very large flow effciency of 19.8 µLmin-1V-1 cm-2 and maximum pressure effciency of 86.6 Pa/V in comparison to mesoporous silica membranes with 2.8 µLmin-1V-1cm-2 flow effciency and a 92 Pa/V pressure effciency. The electrical current (I) of the EOP system for 60 V applied voltage utilizing macroporous silicon membranes is 1.02 x 10-6A with a power consumption of 61.74 x 10-6 watts.

Optical measurements on mesoporous silica are performed spectroscopically from 300 nm to 1000 nm using ellipsometry, which includes, angularly resolved transmission and angularly resolved reflection measurements that extend into the infrared regime. Refractive index (n) values for oxidized and un-oxidized mesoporous silicon sample at 1000 nm are found to be 1.36 and 1.66.

Fluorescence results and characterization confirm the successful pH measurement from ratiometric techniques. The sensitivity measured for fluorescein in buffer solution is 0.51 a.u./pH compared to sensitivity of ~ 0.2 a.u./pH in the case of fluorescein in porous silica template. Porous silica membranes are efficient templates for immobilization of optical dyes and represent a promising method to increase sensitivity for small variations in chemical properties. The FTSD represents a device topology suitable for application to long term monitoring of lakes and reservoirs.

Unique and important contributions from this work include fabrication of a through-wafer mesoporous silica membrane that has been thoroughly characterized optically using ellipsometry. Mesoporous silica membranes are tested as a porous media in an electro-osmotic pump for generating high pressure capacities due to the nanometer pore sizes of the porous media. Further, dye immobilized mesoporous silica membranes along with macroporous silicon substrates are implemented for continuous pH measurements using fluorescence changes in a flow-through sensing device configuration. This novel integration and demonstration is completely based on silicon and implemented for the first time and can lead to miniaturized flow-through sensing systems based on MEMS technologies.