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Burgués, J., Marco, S., (2018). Low power operation of temperature-modulated metal oxide semiconductor gas sensors Sensors 18, (2), 339

Mobile applications based on gas sensing present new opportunities for low-cost air quality monitoring, safety, and healthcare. Metal oxide semiconductor (MOX) gas sensors represent the most prominent technology for integration into portable devices, such as smartphones and wearables. Traditionally, MOX sensors have been continuously powered to increase the stability of the sensing layer. However, continuous power is not feasible in many battery-operated applications due to power consumption limitations or the intended intermittent device operation. This work benchmarks two low-power, duty-cycling, and on-demand modes against the continuous power one. The duty-cycling mode periodically turns the sensors on and off and represents a trade-off between power consumption and stability. On-demand operation achieves the lowest power consumption by powering the sensors only while taking a measurement. Twelve thermally modulated SB-500-12 (FIS Inc. Jacksonville, FL, USA) sensors were exposed to low concentrations of carbon monoxide (0–9 ppm) with environmental conditions, such as ambient humidity (15–75% relative humidity) and temperature (21–27 ◦C), varying within the indicated ranges. Partial Least Squares (PLS) models were built using calibration data, and the prediction error in external validation samples was evaluated during the two weeks following calibration. We found that on-demand operation produced a deformation of the sensor conductance patterns, which led to an increase in the prediction error by almost a factor of 5 as compared to continuous operation (2.2 versus 0.45 ppm). Applying a 10% duty-cycling operation of 10-min periods reduced this prediction error to a factor of 2 (0.9 versus 0.45 ppm). The proposed duty-cycling powering scheme saved up to 90% energy as compared to the continuous operating mode. This low-power mode may be advantageous for applications that do not require continuous and periodic measurements, and which can tolerate slightly higher prediction errors.

Keywords: Smartphone, Metal-oxide semiconductor, Gas sensor, Low power, Temperature-modulation, Interferences