Research Interests: MEMS, Sensors, Printed Devices, Actuators, Harsh Environments, Silicon Carbide, Flame Ionization, Combustion, Nanoimprint Lithography, Gravure
David Rolfe received his B.S. in general engineering from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA. In 2011, he joined the Berkeley Micromechanical Analysis and Devices (BMAD) Lab at the University of California, Berkeley and is currently pursuing a Ph.D.
HEaTS: SiC Thin-Film Flame Ionization Sensor [BPN661]
This project seeks to construct a thermally-isolated, SiC thin-film, ionization sensor to
measure the propagation speed of flames in combustion chambers. Silicon carbide has been chosen as
the sensor material because it is a ceramic semiconductor with low surface energy and excellent
mechanical and electrical properties at high temperatures. A prototype MEMS planar sensor array has
been designed and fabricated for parametric testing of sensor material and geometry. It is
currently undergoing testing using a controlled flame. Future work will incorporate parametric
optimization and thermal isolation of the sensor surface to minimize quenching. The creation of a
flame ionization sensor capable of withstanding combustion environments will allow for measurement
of flame speed, location and propagation around walls of a combustion chamber. Possible future
applications include the real-time monitoring of flame speed in individual internal combustion
engine cylinders or the monitoring of flame stability in turbine applications.