System-on-a-chip (SoC) based environmental monitoring platform for the detection of hazardous materials

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Jeffrey Fan

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Frank Urban

Third Advisor's Name

Kia Makki

Fourth Advisor's Name

Leonel E. Lagos

Fifth Advisor's Name

Jean H. Andrian

Date of Defense



The purpose of this research is design considerations for environmental monitoring platforms for the detection of hazardous materials using System-on-a-Chip (SoC) design. Design considerations focus on improving key areas such as: (1) sampling methodology; (2) context awareness; and (3) sensor placement. These design considerations for environmental monitoring platforms using wireless sensor networks (WSN) is applied to the detection of methylmercury (MeHg) and environmental parameters affecting its formation (methylation) and deformation (demethylation).

The sampling methodology investigates a proof-of-concept for the monitoring of MeHg using three primary components: (1) chemical derivatization; (2) preconcentration using the purge-and-trap (P&T) method; and (3) sensing using Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) sensors. This study focuses on the measurement of inorganic mercury (Hg) (e.g., Hg2+) and applies lessons learned to organic Hg (e.g., MeHg) detection.

Context awareness of a WSN and sampling strategies is enhanced by using spatial analysis techniques, namely geostatistical analysis (i.e., classical variography and ordinary point kriging), to help predict the phenomena of interest in unmonitored locations (i.e., locations without sensors). This aids in making more informed decisions on control of the WSN (e.g., communications strategy, power management, resource allocation, sampling rate and strategy, etc.) This methodology improves the precision of controllability by adding potentially significant information of unmonitored locations.

There are two types of sensors that are investigated in this study for near-optimal placement in a WSN: (1) environmental (e.g., humidity, moisture, temperature, etc.) and (2) visual (e.g., camera) sensors. The near-optimal placement of environmental sensors is found utilizing a strategy which minimizes the variance of spatial analysis based on randomly chosen points representing the sensor locations. Spatial analysis is employed using geostatistical analysis and optimization occurs with Monte Carlo analysis. Visual sensor placement is accomplished for omnidirectional cameras operating in a WSN using an optimal placement metric (OPM) which is calculated for each grid point based on line-of-site (LOS) in a defined number of directions where known obstacles are taken into consideration. Optimal areas of camera placement are determined based on areas generating the largest OPMs. Statistical analysis is examined by using Monte Carlo analysis with varying number of obstacles and cameras in a defined space.




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