Funded Projects

Dielectric Characterization for Agricultural and Pharmaceutical Applications using Microwave Techniques.

Principal Investigator’s Organization (PIO):
COMSATS, Islamabad
Principal Investigator (PI):
Dr. M. Farhan Shafique
Project Details:
Start Date 01-Mar-2013
Duration 24 months
Budget PKR 17.69 million
Status Closed Project
Progress Report View Progress Report
Publications N/A
Thematic Area Agriculture
Project Website
Executive Summary

The project aimed to address one of the key challenges of dielectric characterization within the agriculture and pharmaceutical industry. It is well-known that the dielectric properties of materials could be measured by using innovative microwave topologies to gain access to the wealth of information regarding the material including various other parameters such as the physiological and chemical changes. The technique involves exposing the material to microwave radiation and then acquiring the transmitted and the reflected signal to determine the propagation and attenuation constants of the wave as it progresses through the material. The acquired signals carry the information pertaining to the material and could be used to determine the contents. The domain of dielectric characterization is well-known and many methodologies have been developed in the past. The aim of this project was to study and apply a novel class of miniature, compact and highly sensitive sensors to perform measurements on wheat seeds to determine the moisture content and on pharmaceutical chemicals to determine their purity. Accurate determination of the moisture contents of seed kernels such as wheat is pivotal to the agricultural industry and plays a major role within the harvesting life-cycle of seeds from harvesting to packaging and retailing. An important challenge faced within the industry is the ability to determine the moisture contents on individual seed kernels independently with high accuracy and with less effort. Despite, current research into such problems the industry still lacks the technological advance that would resolve such problems. In this project a new class of miniature microwave sensors have been developed which could resolve such issues. The accurately determined moisture content could significantly increase the crop production by predicting the exact time for pesticide spray and would allow for optimum watering of crops. Moreover, the best harvesting time could be calculated with the characterization of a grain seed. These seeds can also be categorized very accurately according to their quality for suitable applications. Another important application of this process is the characterization of solutions in pharmaceutical industry. Conventional spectroscopic methods traditionally require sufficient sample quantity to completely analyze the contents. However, the development of such sensitive miniature sensors would allow for characterization of liquids available in trace amounts. An ultimate application of these sensors is the diagnostic of precious liquids available in minute quantities. The cost-effective and disposable nature of the sensors makes them ideally suited to pharmaceutical industry. Results and outcomes Cost effective and easy to use sensors have been designed and realized in this research work. The fundamental objective was to determine the moisture content of wheat grains therefore Substrate Integrated Waveguide (SIW) cavity resonators have been used as sensing element.