Zebra GC: A Fully Integrated Micro Gas Chromatography System


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Virginia Tech


A ready-to-deploy implementation of microfabricated gas chromatography (microGC) system characterized for detecting hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) at parts-per-billion (ppb) concentrations in complex mixtures has been described. A microfabricated preconcentrator (microPC), a MEMS separation column with on-chip thermal conductivity detector (microSC-TCD), the flow controller unit, and all the necessary flow and thermal management as well as user interface circuitry are integrated to realize the fully functional microGC system. The work reports extensive characterization of microPC, microSC and micro]TCD for target analytes: benzene, toluene, tetrachloroethylene, chlorobenzene, ethylbenzene, and p-xylene. Limit of Detection (LOD) of ~1 ng was achieved, which corresponds to 10 min sampling time at a flow rate of 1 mL/min for analyte present at ~25 ppbv concentration. An innovative method for generating very sharp injection plugs from the microPC even in the presence of flow sensitive detectors like micro]TCD is described. A one-to-one comparison between microGC system and conventional Automated Thermal Desorption-Gas Chromatograph-Flame Ionization Detector (ATD GC-FID) system for real gasoline samples in simulated car refueling scenario is reported.



Micro Gas Chromatography, Environmental Monitoring, Embedded Systems