This research focuses on developing both polymer formulation and application to serve as the functional layer on a sensor device. The sensor (under 1 mm in all dimensions) will be used to sense down a petroleum wellbore, requiring durability at high temperature and pressures as well as inertness to a brine solution used during injection. When a target (such as a petroleum phase) is present, the polymer will either dissolve or swell permanently, changing electrical properties and allowing measurement at the surface. Current methods include application of a thin (microns-thick) film atop a planar sensor device, or using the polymer as a bulk material that contains magnetic microspheres that can be released and sensed when the polymer dissolves.
Contact: Brad Leonhardt <bradl (at) che.utexas.edu>