Abstract by Isa Kohls
Physics and Astronomy
Design of a Heater for use in Thermal Gradient Gas Chromatography
Gas Chromatography (GC) systems are the gold standard for volatile analysis. The uses of such machines are as diverse as gas itself; with many applications in medicine, criminal investigation, and research. Current GC systems rely on long column systems that make them bulky, thus restricting their use. Portable GS systems have been developed but have significantly lower performance than their larger counterparts. Recent work shows that one way to compensate for shorter columns is to use a thermal gradient. We are working to design and build such a micro GC chip using a 3D printer. The 20cm long channels are fashioned in a rounded zig zag pattern and will incorporate heaters to finely control the thermal gradient. The nature of printing tubes mere hundreds of microns across has lead to some difficulties. The printer's limitations have cause concern over the uniformity of the diameter, roughness of the walls, left-over dust inside the channel, shrinkage, leakage in seals, porosity, and the proper choice of material. The heater itself will need to go through more design changes as limitations of building processes emerge and are overcome.