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Method for employing titania nanotube sensors as vacuum gauges

United States Patent Application

View the Complete Application at the US Patent & Trademark Office
A method by which titania, or other composition, nanotube arrays, grown anodically or otherwise, can be made to meter vacuum pressure through hydrogen absorption has been discovered. The nanotube array (203) is fixed onto a demountable or permanently affixed flange, through which electrical current can be passed. By metering the current (205) for an allowable range of bias voltages (207), a resistance value (302) can be obtained. This resistance is related to the hydrogen pressure (202) through cross-calibration at the overlap with conventional gauges. Conventional gauges require free electrons for ionization of gas molecules, directly contributing to the pressure in the vacuum volume. The present invention avoids that complication by relying on the absorption of hydrogen. The method associated with this embodiment includes the mounting, bias, current measurement, restoration and boosting techniques all compatible with the operation of a vacuum vessel at very high, ultra-high and extreme-high vacuum levels.
Mulhollan, Gregory A. (Dripping Springs, TX), Bierman, John C. (Austin, TX), Kirby, Robert E. (Cupertino, CA)
13/ 506,280
April 9, 2012
FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH [0002] This work was supported by the Department of Energy SBIR under Grant No. DE-SC0004437.