Spectrometer on a chip


Multiple science objectives outlined in the planetary science decadal survey involve the detection of small molecular tracers and determination of their abundance and origin. A highly sensitive gas analyzer has capabilities for a multitude of mission profiles in which measurements of the composition and origin of material are desired. For detection in the gas phase the rotational spectrum of a polar molecule typically provides a strong interaction with (millimeter and sub-millimeter) radiation, which has been exploited for remote sensing for half a century. In-situ instruments are now being developed, but have lagged behind remote sensors due to the large equipment traditionally required for generation and detection of this radiation.

Our Approach

To advance the technology, we are collaborating with JPL to develop a highly compact and sensitive in-situ gas detection system, Spectrometer on a chip, to meet planetary science decadal survey objectives. The spectrometer on a chip will enhance NASAs portfolio of in-situ technologies by providing a means for point detection of volatiles and for analysis of their isotopic content. The microwave, millimeter and sub-millimeter spectra of molecules are highly specific and provide unambiguous detection when the gas is measured at low pressures. The instrument will have enough bandwidth to encompass multiple targeted detection and will also be useful for discovery detection. We are developing a gas spectrometer capable of compact low-power operations in a near vacuum environment with CMOS based mm-wave transmitter and receiver enclosed, as shown in the Figure. In effect, all in-situ missions, i.e. explorers, probes and sample returns can be enhanced with this technique.



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  4. R. Shu, A. Tang, B. Drouin, Q. J. Gu, “A 54-84 GHz CMOS SPST Switch with 35 dB Isolation,” 2015 IEEE Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits Symposium (RFIC)
  5. B. J. Drouin, A. Tang, E. Schlecht, A. Daly, E. Brageot, Q. J. Gu, Y. Ye, R. Shu, F. Chang, R. Kim, “Implementation of CMOS Millimeter-wave Devices for Rotational Spectroscopy,” Accepted by International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, June 22-26, 2015

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