Microwave and Sensor Engineer

Kent Pfeifer with Vibe Sensors

Education

Bachelor's Degree: Physics, University of Southern Colorado (1981-1985)

Master's Degree: Electrical Engineering (MSEE) in Optical Electronics, University of New Mexico (1986-1991)

Pfeifer's master’s thesis was titled “In Situ Monitoring of Thin Film Deposition using Optical Fibers” which explored the viability of using optical fibers to actively monitor the optical properties and optical thicknesses of thin films being deposited on substrates. This approach employed an active reflectivity monitoring system that could detect changes in reflection at levels of 1 part in 10000.  Active monitoring of the reflection allows extremely accurate manufacture of multi-layer thin film optical coatings for optical and semiconductor applications. 

 

 

Research Interests

Kent Pfeifer's research interests include high-performance radiation and explosives detection, electrostatic discharge mechanisms and mitigation, surface plasmon resonance sensors, acoustic-based sensors, ion mobility spectroscopy, and holographic correlation spectroscopy. Contributions to each of these fields center around miniaturization, performance enhancement, and development of robust, field-grade systems for high-consequence applications.

  • High-Performance Miniaturized Ion Mobility Sensors
    Development of high-performance miniaturized ion mobility sensors (IMS) for application in first-responder scenarios has been a priority in Pfeifer's research. These systems are based on high-performance IMS tubes manufactured using innovative 3-D low-temperature co-fire (LTCC) technologies to make light-weight, easily manufacturable, and chemically inert systems.  These systems are fabricated using lithographic processes and modern surface mount electronics technologies to achieve high-density electrodes that maintain uniformity of the electric field gradient across larger fractions of the cross-section than conventional tubes.  Thus, higher ion capture and transport efficiencies are achieved. In addition, novel operational modes based on radar-inspired pulse compression techniques have been demonstrated and refined that increase the effective resolution of the tubes to levels beyond even the largest conventional tubes.
  • Optical-Fiber Based Surface Plasmon Resonance Sensors

    Development of optical-fiber based surface plasmon resonance sensors for application in high-electric field environments or electronic exclusion zones has been another area of interest.  Multi-layer coating of optical fibers allows spectroscopic measurement of the surface plasmon resonance as a function of concentration.  This research has involved modeling of the surface boundary conditions found in optical fibers and design and fabrication of optical fiber sensors that will be function in the harsh environments where electric fields are present and cannot be disturbed or electric exclusion zones found in high-consequence systems.

    Relevant Publications:

    Surface Plasmon Resonance Fiber Optic Sensors, in Optical Fiber Sensors: Advanced Techniques and Applications, K. B. Pfeifer and S. L. Thornberg, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, Ginu Rajan Ed., March 2, 2015.

    Multi-region Surface Plasmon Sensors for High Consequence Systems in Technologies for Smart Sensor and Sensor Fusion, K. B. Pfeifer and S. L. Thornberg, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, Kevin Yallup and Krzysztof Iniewski Eds., April 07, 2014.

  • Surface Acoustic Wave-Based Sensors
    Surface acoustic wave (SAW) based sensors for application in high-consequence systems is an important field of interest. Pfeifer's research in this field has led to many important discoveries and applications in areas such as chemical weapon monitoring and rapid analysis of water quality.  Specifically, the monitoring of tri-halo methanes (THMs) has allowed the near real-time control of disinfectant distribution in municipal water systems.  THMs are formed when too much disinfectant such as chlorine is added to water and there is an unused excess that degrades into these carcinogenic compounds.  This technology has been successfully spun-off to Parker-Hannifin Corporation which currently manufactures and sells a system based on this Sandia developed SAW technology.
    Relevant Publication:

    Detection of Trihalomethanes Using Nanoporous-Carbon Coated Surface-Acoustic-Wave Sensors, M. P. Siegal, C. D. Mowry, K. B. Pfeifer, D. F. S. Gallis, J. of the Electrochemical Society, Vol. 162, No. 6, March 2015, B114-B120.

  • Awards, Honors, and Memberships

    Electrochemical Society

    International Society of Ion Mobility Spectroscopy

    Sandia National Laboratories Mission Innovator Award (May 2016)

    Innovation Award, Midiwing for Musicode Innovations, NM Small Business Assistance Program (May 2012)

    Sandia National Laboratories Classified Inventor Award, Project "Maxwell" (April 2012)

  • Selected Publications

    Microfabrication of a Gadolinium-derived Solid-state Sensor for Thermal Neutrons, Kent B. Pfeifer, Komandoor E. Achyuthan, Matthew Allen, Michele L. B. Denton, Michael P. Siegal, and Ronald P. Manginell, Journal of Radiation Research, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2017, pp. 464–473.

    Detection of Trihalomethanes Using Nanoporous-Carbon Coated Surface-Acoustic-Wave Sensors, M. P. Siegal, C. D. Mowry, K. B. Pfeifer, D. F. S. Gallis, J. of the Electrochemical Society, Vol. 162, No. 6, March, 2015, B114-B120.

    Two-Dimensional Péclet Numbers for Peak Quality Scoring, K. B. Pfeifer, W. G. Yelton, D. R. Kerr IEEE Sensors Journal, Vol. 11, Issue: 9, Sept. 2011, pp. 2108-2110.

    Surface Plasmon Sensing of Gas Phase Contaminants Using a Single-Ended Multi-region Optical Fiber, Pfeifer, Kent B., Thornberg, Steven M.,  IEEE Sensors Journal, Vol. 10,  No. 8, Aug. 2010, 1360-1367.

    Mass-Sensitive Microfabricated Chemical Preconcentrator,  Manginell, R. P., Adkins, D. R., Moorman, M. W., Hadizadeh, R, Copic, D., Porter, D. A., Anderson, J. M., Hietala, V. M., Bryan, J. R., Wheeler, D. R., Pfeifer, K. B., Rumpf, A. N., Journal of Microelectronmechanical Systems, Vol. 17, No. 6, Dec. 2008, pg.1396-1407

    Signal-to-Noise and Resolution Enhancement in Ion Mobility Spectrometry Using Correlation Gating Techniques: Barker Codes, K. B. Pfeifer, S. B. Rohde, IEEE Sensors Journal, Vol. 7. No. 8, August 2007, pg. 1130.

    LTCC Microsystems and Microsystem Packaging and Integration Applications, K. A. Peterson, K. D. Patel, C. K Ho, B. R. Roherer, C. D. Nordquist, B. D. Wroblewski, K. B. Pfeifer, Journal of Microelectronics and Electronic Packaging, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2006, pg. 109.

    Measurement of ion swarm distribution functions in miniature low-temperature co-fire ceramic ion mobility spectrometer drift tubes, K. B. Pfeifer, A. N. Rumpf, Analytical Chemistry, 77, (2005) 16, 5215-5220.

    Miniaturized Ion Mobility Spectrometer for explosives and contraband Detection, K. B. Pfeifer, R. C. Sanchez, International Journal for Ion Mobility Spectrometry, 5 (2002) 3, pp. 63-66.

    Porous Al2O3 Nanogeometry sensor films: Growth and Analysis, W. Graham Yelton, Kent B. Pfeifer, Alan W. Staton, Journal of the ElectroChemical Society, V. 149(#1) pp. H1-H5, Jan 2002.

    Characteristics and Mechanisms in Ion-Conducting Polymer Films as Chemical Sensors, Robert C. Hughes, W. Graham Yelton, Kent B. Pfeifer, Sanjay V. Patel, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, V 148(#4), pp. H37-H44, Apr. 2001.

    Sensors for the Detection of Moisture in Inert and Corrosive Gases, M. J. Kelly, R. P. Goehner, R. S. Blewer, B. R. Stallard, M. J. Garcia, K. B. Pfeifer, T. R. Guilinger, D. W. Peterson, M. R. Tuck, J. N. Sweet, K. R. Zavadil, G. T. Cordes, Semiconductor Industry Developments and Results from the Twelve Years of the UltraClean Society, The Society for the Study of Semiconductor Substrate Technology, (to be published).

    Viologen Polymer-Coated Impedance Sensors for Midrange Humidity Levels and Other Volatile Organic Compounds, K. B. Pfeifer, R. C. Hughes, M. W. Jenkins, and T. W. Schneider, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Vol. 146, No. 2, pp. 794-799, 1999.

    Fiber-optic Polymer Residue Monitor, K. B. Pfeifer, R. L. Jarecki, and T. J. Dalton, SPIE Conference on Chemical Microsensors and Applications, Boston, MA, Vol. 3539, Nov. 1998.

    Heat of Adsorption and Thin Film Surface Area Studies of a Silicon-Sol-Gel Exposed to HCI and H20, K. B. Pfeifer, Langmuir, 1995, 11, pp 4933-4796.

    Polymer-coated surface-acoustic -wave Monitoring of CCl4 in a Steam Reforming Reactor, K. B. Pfeifer, J. L. Sprung and T. R. Galloway, Sensors and Actuators B 22 (1994) pp 37-45.

    Portable Acoustic Wave Sensor Systems for On-Line Monitoring of Volatile Organics, G. C. Frye,  S. J. Martin, R. W. Cernosek, and K. B. Pfeifer, Intl. J. Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing, Vol. 1 (1992), p. 37.

    The Detection of Organophosphonates by Polymer Films on a Surface Acoustic Wave Device and a Micromirror Fiber Optic Sensor, R. C Hughes, A. J. Ricco, M. A. Butler and K. B. Pfeifer, Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Vol 38, 1993.  (8/26/92)

    Two Dimensional Barker Patterns for Optical Alignment, M. A. Butler, K. B. Pfeifer and A. J. Martin, Applied Optics, Vol. 30, No. 32, 10 Nov. 1991.
  • Selected Book Chapters

    Surface Plasmon Resonance Fiber Optic Sensors, in Optical Fiber Sensors: Advanced Techniques and Applications, K. B. Pfeifer and S. L. Thornberg, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, Ginu Rajan Ed., March 2, 2015.

    Multi-region Surface Plasmon Sensors for High Consequence Systems in Technologies for Smart Sensor and Sensor Fusion, K. B. Pfeifer and S. L. Thornberg, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, Kevin Yallup and Krzysztof Iniewski Eds., April 07, 2014.

  • Selected Patents

    PC board mount corrosion sensitive sensor, Robinson; Alex L., Casias; Adrian L., Pfeifer; Kent B., Laguna; George R., United States Patent 9,291,543, March 22, 2016.

    Wireless passive radiation sensor, Pfeifer; Kent B., Rumpf; Arthur N., Yelton; William G., Limmer; Steven J., US Patent 8,596,862, December 3, 2013

    Method of multi-dimensional moment analysis for the characterization of signal peaks, Pfeifer, Kent, B, Yelton W. Graham, Kerr, Dayle, R., Bouchier, Francis, A., United States Patent 8,296,078, October 23, 2012.

    Wireless passive temperature sensor, Pfeifer; Kent B., Rumpf; Arthur N.  United States Patent, 8,240,911, August 14, 2012

    Ion mobility spectrometer with virtual aperture grid, Pfeifer; Kent B., Rumpf; Arthur N., United States Patent, 7,838,823, November 23, 2010.

    Correlation spectrometer, Sinclair; Michael B. Pfeifer; Kent B., Flemming; Jeb H., Jones; Gary D., Tigges; Chris P., United States Patent, 7,697,134 , April 13, 2010.

    Correlation ion mobility spectroscopy, Pfeifer; Kent B., Rohde; Steven B., United States Patent 7,417,222, August 26, 2008.

    Passive tire pressure sensor and method, Pfeifer; Kent Bryant, Williams; Robert Leslie, Waldschmidt; Robert Lee, Morgan; Catherine Hook, United States Patent, 7,263,892, September 4, 2007.

    Method for producing a tube, Peterson; Kenneth A., Rohde; Steven B., Pfeifer; Kent B., Turner; Timothy S., United States Patent 7,155,812, January 2, 2007

    Passive tire pressure sensor and method, Pfeifer; Kent Bryant, Williams; Robert Leslie, Waldschmidt; Robert Lee, Morgan; Catherine Hook, United States Patent, 7,096,736, August 29, 2006.

    Three dimensional stress vector array and method therefor, Pfeifer; Kent Bryant, Rudnick; Thomas Jeffery United States Patent, 6,912,914, July 5, 2005.

    Acoustic-wave sensor for ambient monitoring of a photoresist-stripping agent, Pfeifer; Kent B., Hoyt; Andrea E., Frye; Gregory C.,  United States Patent 5,795,993, August 18, 1998.

    Acoustic wave (AW) based moisture sensor for use with corrosive gases, Pfeifer; Kent B., Frye; Gregory C., Schneider; Thomas W., United States Patent, 5,571,944, November 5, 1996.

    Ferroelectric optical image comparator. Butler; Michael A., Land; Cecil E., Martin; Stephen J., Pfeifer; Kent B., United States Patent, 5,267,179, November 30, 1993.