Microfabricated Hydrogen Sensitive Membranes


​Thin, defect-free palladium, palladium/copper and palladium/silver hydrogen absorbing membranes were microfabricated. A dual sputtering technique was used to deposit the palladium alloy membranes of only 1 μm thickness on a nonporous silicon substrate. Advanced silicon etching (ASE) was applied on the backside to create a mechanically stable support structure for the thin films. Performance evaluation was carried out for different gases in a temperature range of 20 °C to 298 °C at a constant differential pressure of 110 kPa at the two sides of the membrane. The composite membranes show an excellent permeation rate of hydrogen, which appears to be 0.05 Pa m3 s–1 and 0.01 · 10–3 Pa m3 s–1 at 20 °C for the microfabricated 23 % silver and the 53 % copper composite membranes, respectively. The selectivity to hydrogen over a gas mixture containing, in addition to hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen was measured. The mass spectrometer did not detect any CO2 or CO, showing that the membrane is completely hydrogen selective. The microfabricated membranes exhibit both high mechanical strength (they easily withstand pressures up to 4 bar) and high thermal stability (up to 650 °C).