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Tuning D with Modified Thermal Detectors

Volume 60, Number 12 (Dec. 2006) Page 1469-1476

Simcock, M.N.; Myrick, M.L.

We report on the fabrication and characterization of a modified thermopile detector that has a spectral detectivity, D*, primarily determined by the absorbance of a polymer film. This was done by coating the detector with a metal mirror, followed by the polymer film, so that the film absorbances are responsible for most thermal conversion. The detector is designed to tailor the spectral response of optical systems more specifically to analytes in order to improve precision in methods such as multivariate optical computing and simple photometry. Interference effects in the thin-film response are eliminated by the textured surface of the silicon thermopile, which makes the spectral response relatively simple. The maximum detectivity due to a 1-micrometer-thick film is found to be 20% of the detectivity of the original wide-band detector at 10 Hz modulation frequency. We estimate the thermal diffusion length in the polymer at 10 Hz to be 40 micrometers. We also suggest that the detectivity of the modified detector can be approximated as the product of the D* of the underlying thermal detector and the absorbance of the modifying film, provided the modulation frequency is low and interference effects are defeated.