Featured Article: Use of Microhotplates in the Controlled Growth and Characterization of Metal Oxides for Chemical Sensing

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Microhotplates are micromachined platforms with integrated heaters and contact electrodes that can be used as miniature substrates for metal oxide film growth. Fabricated as arrays, they enable efficient combinatorial studies to be performed on a single chip. A variety of growth methods are compatible with their use, including evaporation, sputtering, chemical vapor deposition, and deposition from pastes or sol gels using screen printing, drop deposition, or spin-coating. The microheater on each element may be used to control the temperature during deposition or for a post-annealing step such as sintering, while the film contact electrodes serve as a built-in monitor of the fabrication process. In chemical vapor deposition using arrays, the elements with heaters set above the lowest nucleation temperature for a given precursor are the only ones that will have film deposited on them, resulting in a kind of self-lithography. This review gives examples of different methods of film growth that have been employed on microhotplates with applications for chemical sensing, with an emphasis on the chemical vapor deposition method.

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