Intense high-temperature luminescence enables this thermometer to operate in high thermal radiation backgrounds.

A new concept has been developed for a high-temperature luminescence-based optical thermometer that both shows the desired temperature sensitivity in the upper temperature range of present state-of-the-art luminescence thermometers (above 1,300 °C), while maintaining substantial stronger luminescence signal intensity that will allow these optical thermometers to operate in the presence of the high thermal background radiation typical of industrial applications. This objective is attained by using a Cr-doped GdAlO3 (Cr:GdAlO3) sensor with an orthorhombic perovskite structure, resulting in broadband luminescence that remains strong at high temperature due to the favorable electron energy level spacing of Cr:GdAlO3.

The Cr:GdAlO3 temperature (and pressure) sensor can be incorporated into, or applied onto, a component’s surface when a non-contact surface temperature measurement is desired, or alternatively, the temperature sensor can be attached to the end of a fiber-optic probe that can then be positioned at the location where the temperature measurement is desired. In the case of the fiber-optic probe, both the pulsed excitation and the luminescence emission travel through the fiber-optic light guide. In either case, a pulsed light source provides excitation of the luminescence, and the broadband luminescence emission is collected. Real-time temperature measurements are obtained using a least-squares fitting algorithm that determines the luminescence decay time, which has a known temperature dependence established by calibration. Due to the broad absorption and emission bands for Cr:GdAlO3, there is considerable flexibility in the choice of excitation wavelength and emission wavelength detection bands.

The strategic choice of the GdAlO3 host is based on its high crystal field, phase stability, and distorted symmetry at the Cr3+ occupation sites. The use of the broadband emission for temperature sensing at high temperatures is a key feature of the invention and is novel since broadband luminescence emission normally shows severe thermal quenching. The tightly bound AlO6 octahedra in GdAlO3 results in a larger energy barrier to nonradiative decays than in other materials and therefore makes using broadband emission for temperature sensing possible at high temperatures. This approach results in a substantial increase in temperature capability. For example, the most commonly used Cr-doped crystal used for luminescence-based temperature measurements, ruby, has only been demonstrated up to 600 °C, whereas the Cr:GdAlO3 optical thermometer under development has already been shown to exhibit useful luminescence up to 1,300 °C. Because GdAlO3 is non-reactive and is stable in harsh, high-temperature environments, sensors composed of Cr:GdAlO3 will be very well suited for remote high-temperature measurements in engine or industrial environments where its intense high-temperature luminescence will stand out above significant thermal radiation background levels.

This work was done by Jeffrey Eldridge of Glenn Research Center and Matthew Chambers.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steven Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-18614-1.

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