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Humidity Sensor for Glass Display Doors


Humidity Sensor for Glass Display Doors

Tech Area / Field

  • INS-DET/Detection Devices/Instrumentation
  • INS-MEA/Measuring Instruments/Instrumentation
  • MAN-MAT/Engineering Materials/Manufacturing Technology
  • MAN-MPS/Manufacturing, Planning, Processing and Control/Manufacturing Technology

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Institute for Physical Research / Engineering and Physics Laboratory, Armenia, Ashtarak-2


  • American Superlite, Inc., USA, CA, Burbank

Project summary

Project's purpose and the state of the art in the field. The objective of this project is to conduct research and development and eventually to build humidity sensors for glass display doors using laser evaporative coating.

Glass display doors are commonly used in refrigeration systems to display merchandise and beverages in supermarkets, in warehouse clubs, grocery stores, floral shops, deli cases, meat counters, convenience stores, drug stores and ice cream parlors. These display doors are built in different configurations and sizes. The doors are usually built with two sheets of glass, approximately 65 cm ґ 150 cm, and aluminum extrusion profiles wrap around the glass as a frame. The inner surfaces of the two sheets of glass are coated with a conductive coating and heated to prevent condensation build-up.

Generally all display glass doors used in the refrigeration applications are continuously heated. The problem in the industry is that tremendous energy is lost due to the fact that the glass display doors continuously consume the energy to prevent the condensation on the glass, even when it is not needed.

There are tens of millions of glass display doors in the world and they are all built with heated glass doors. A humidity sensor would literally revolutionize the industry by cutting energy consumption of heated display glass doors by up to 80%. Other companies have built humidity control devices and sensors that do not work properly and the detection is not done where the problem is. The sensor should be on the glass surface itself, such as an invisible coating sensor, which can detect even small traces of humidity on the glass. This could be achieved by laser evaporative coating technique and by using specific types of coatings.

To achieve the objective many crucial experiments and tests must be designed on various coatings and materials and their behavior with lasers and glass. Experiments also have to be done on the adhesion of certain chemicals and coatings to glass using laser evaporative coatings. Many parameters such as temperature, humidity, optical characteristics, etc. should be taken into consideration.

There are many technical difficulties that have to be overcome during this project. One of the greatest difficulties is to do uniform laser evaporative coating on large surfaces. The current limitation is that uniform laser evaporative coating with needed technical parameters could only be done on small samples of specimen. To overcome this obstacle, both theoretical and experimental research must be done. This includes computer simulations, essential modifications on existing experimental setup, etc. Another problem is the development of the actual deposition machine that would be able to do larger surfaces relatively faster and economical.

Presumably, we will design relative humidity sensors using three- or four-layer thin-film structures. The sensing element's multi-layer construction could provide excellent resistance to application hazards such as dust, dirt, oils, and common environmental chemicals. In operation, water vapor on the surface top layer will equilibrate with the surrounding gas. The metallic layer will provide the needed optical response. A protective layer providing mechanical protection for the active structure will be used.

In summary, we are going to develop humidity and temperature sensors for the commercial refrigeration and heating industry. Related designs could include ventilating and air conditioning industry, gas sensing and air quality control. Our focus on the scientific and technical aspects of these and related problems could be a real solution to real needs.

Competence of the project team. The present project assumes research and development collaboration between the Surface Physics and Atom Optics groups of the Engineering Center “Mashtots” of Armenian National Academy of Sciences and American Superlite, Inc.

The research directions of the Engineering Center include Surface Physics, Atom Optics, Crystal Physics, Non-Linear Acoustics Group, and Scientific Instrumentation. Many of results obtained in the Engineering Center are now receiving international recognition. The Center has large collaborations with several western groups including US, Europe and Japan. The collaborators of Surface Physics Group are very experienced groups from US, United Kingdom, and Germany.

The Surface Physics Group has much experience in the field of theoretical and experimental surface physics and integrated optics. The members of the group are the authors of several important articles on the problem of surface polaritons for smooth interfaces for different model profiles of dielectric permittivity.

Different techniques involving the propagation of polaritons along interfaces in thin films have been developed by the group as tools to investigate the properties of multilayer structures and surfaces. These methods have proved extremely valuable in our understanding of surface physics. This work has been aided by the development of analytic methods and computer simulations, which model the experimental situations allowing interactive comparison between experiment and theoretical analysis. From this many new avenues of research have been found and new areas for device potential have been uncovered.

The Atom Optics group has a strong background in the field of theoretical atomic and quantum optics and the theory of interaction of laser radiation with matter. The members of the group are the authors of two important articles on the problem of the coherent scattering of neutral atoms by a standing wave optical field. Dr. A. Ishkhanyan is a theorist who proposed a model explanation, based on the quantum interference, of the experimentally observed anomalies in the pattern of coherent diffraction of atoms by short counterpropagating pulses of laser radiation.

Scope of activities and expected Results. This project would enable both parties to work together to find a solution to a common global problem. The project would allow both parties to tap into an industry that is still growing globally and it is a billion dollar industry.

Proof of our concept of laser evaporative coatings for humidity sensor development will be tested and a small-scale prototype of a working system will be constructed.

The final outcome of the project is to develop a sensor that would monitor humidity on glass display doors and would eliminate the continuous use of electric power. This will open new business opportunities in both CIS and US. Related designs could include ventilating and air conditioning industry, gas sensing and air quality control.

The proposed project consists of 3 blocks of closely related tasks including 9 particular issues on the above-mentioned problems that include the research work and the dissemination of the results.

Meeting ISTC objectives. The proposed project will promote for constant increasing of the professional level and for the intimacy of the scientists, collaboration in their scientific activity efforts. It will promote complete integration of the members of the group into the international scientific community. The project will assist to form a new research team from scientists and engineers, working in the Engineering Center, who were previously engaged in different defense programs of the former USSR.

The US Collaborator will benefit from the contact with high-level and highly-skilled Armenian scientists and engineers as well as from the early access to results arising from different research and development projects carrying out in the Armenian institute and from the partnership in commercialization of results.

The collaboration will lead to long-term cooperation in science and technology from experience gained during project implementation and, we hope, will find deepening continuation in future under internationally funded projects.

Role of Foreign Collaborators. The proposed collaboration between the Surface Physics and Atom Optics groups of the Engineering Center “Mashtots” of Armenian National Academy of Sciences and American Superlite, Inc. is anticipated to be beneficial for both participating partners since it combines high level of expertise for the problems at hand.

American Superlite, Inc. concerns with investigations and development of various industrial lighting systems. Light emitting diodes (LED) vehicle safety lights developed by the company are the newest and most innovative way to light trucks, trailers, buses, boat trailers and other vehicles. The patented lens and reflector designs produce LED lights that surpass all others in quality and brightness. Test results on company’s LED lighting systems demonstrate a failure rate of less than 0.01 percent that allows American Superlite, Inc. to offer a lifetime guarantee on their product.

The company continues today the research in several other fields, such as, various thin film coatings on display glass doors for the refrigeration industry, conductive coatings on automotive lighting systems using LEDs, optical sensors for the petroleum industry, etc. The company is also engaged in investigations on elaborating compact fluorescent lamps for interior and exterior utility.

Evidently, the contemplated project represents an ideal mix of the technology and business expertise of the US collaborator and the research and development qualifications of the Armenian team. Undoubtedly, the Armenian group will benefit from contacts with the collaborating western group. We have previously worked with different western groups and are working now, and thus we have confidence in our ability to cooperate successfully on this project.

The collaborators to this project will participate in the following ways:

a) carry out joint research on all the topics of the project;
b) conduct regular reviews of progress of work throughout the project effort;
c) review project publications;
d) provide technical assistance, conduct joint seminars and workshops;
e) help host project personnel visits to the partner country.

Since the current research interests of the involved groups substantially overlap, it is our clear intention to coordinate closely the work of the teams by means of intensive information exchange. Communication and intensive collaboration between the groups has been established already and can be continued via electronic means.

Technical approach and methodology. All the tasks of the project are very complicated and will require a combination of research and engineering methods for their solution. The purposes of the project will be arrived with the help of known and well-developed methods of physics engineering. (In the meantime, some of the theoretical and experimental methods for the solution of some of the proposed tasks are essentially based on the new approaches developed by us for the previous investigations of these problems.) The members of the group have sufficiently high qualification and skills in working with both experimental and engineering methods.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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