Charles J. Taylor
Associate Professor of Chemistry, Pomona College 
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Research

The Taylor research laboratory is focused on developing new materials for use in microanalytical systems and as sensors for incorporation in electronic nose technology. In order to improve the efficiency of this research, arrays of independently controlled microheaters with built-in electrical contacts (called microhotplates) are used to examine how temperature and composition affect the selectivity of a sensorís response.  Preparing and analyzing samples in parallel allows us to improve a materialís properties more quickly than if we were to prepare samples sequentially.

During the Summer of 2003, two of my students and I worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on a project merging technologies based on polymer-carbon black composites and metal oxide chemical sensors.  The work is significant because it will allow us to identify and quantify vapors over a wider concentration range.  The polymer-carbon black composites provide the ability to distinguish between different vapors at higher concentrations due to the inherent selectivity brought about by the polymer functionality. At lower concentrations, the high sensitivity of the metal oxides prepared in our lab will allow us to complete this task.

During the Summer of 2004, we completed the design and construction of our automated gas handling system enabling us to test our sensors without making the trek across town to JPL.  The system is attached to a HP-5890 Series II Gas Chromatograph equipped with a gas sampling loop and HP-5921A Atomic Emission Detector, allowing us to monitor vapor concentrations delivered by the system.  Students working in my research group will gain skills with both commercial and home-built analytical instrumentation, statistical data analysis, materials preparation via chemical vapor deposition and electron microscopy.

While on sabbatical leave at JPL during the 2005-2006 academic year, I worked once again with the ENose group.  The goal is to develop materials for both event detection and two inorganic analytes, sulfur dioxide and elemental mercury.  Both are potential contaminants in the International Space Station (ISS). As part of this effort, we are investigating the potential of both metal oxides and polymer-based sensors. The resulting device was launched in December of 2008 for a six-month demonstration.