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Cold Plasma Generator in Low Temperature Co-Fired Ceramics
Keywords: Plasma, Room-Temperature, Ozone
The initial goal in producing a cold plasma device, capable of operating from a low-voltage power source and on a small scale, was to integrate it with an Ion Mobility Spectrometer (IMS), to eliminate the need for nuclear ionization sources in its operation. This sort of device would cut environmental and personal hazards involved in production of such a system, and eliminate other operating requirements, such as an ion gate, by replacing them with a simple, electronically controlled source. Utilizing the Low-Temperature Co-Fired Ceramic (LTCC) material system, we could integrate this plasma device into the IMS at little cost. The essential system consists of two asymmetrically sized capacitor plates, parallel to one another, charged by a high voltage, high frequency circuit. A timing circuit drives a flyback transformer from a 9V power source, producing the high voltage required, oscillating at roughly 30 KHz. The difference in potential across the gap is enough to ionize the air, and cause a purple glow. The ionized air is produced in the space between the plates, at room temperature and pressure, not requiring high temperatures or adverse pressures, like many other plasmas. Initial tests have proven the ability to shrink the circuit and supply it from a relatively low-voltage power supply, and prototypes have demonstrated feasibility various plate geometries. Though the system has caused too much interference with the IMS to be useful in its current state, continuing research is focusing on fixing this problem. Further applications of cold plasma are also being investigated: one of the byproducts of the ionization of air is ozone, which could be used as an efficient oxidizing or cleaning agent in other systems.
Alex Miller, Lab Tech
Boise State University
Boise, ID

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