Detecting pesticides and nerve gas in very low concentrations? An international team of researchers led by Ivo Stassen and Rob Ameloot from KU Leuven have made it possible.
The best-known electronic nose is the breathalyser. As drivers breathe into the device, a chemical sensor measures the amount of alcohol in their breath. This chemical reaction is then converted into an electronic signal, allowing the police officer to read off the result. Alcohol is easy to detect, because the chemical reaction is specific and the concentration of the measured gas is fairly high. But many other gases are complex mixtures of molecules in very low concentrations. Building electronic noses to detect them is thus quite a challenge.
This is the most sensitive sensor ever created for pesticides and nerve gas.
Researchers from KU Leuven have now built a very sensitive electronic nose with metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). “MOFs are like microscopic sponges,” postdoctoral researcher Ivo Stassen explains. “They can absorb quite a lot of gas into their minuscule pores.”
UT Dallas Team Breathes New Life into Possibilities By Using CMOS Integrated Circuits Technology
Researchers at the Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE) at UT Dallas are working to develop an affordable electronic nose that can be used in breath analysis for a wide range of health diagnosis.
While devices that can conduct breath analysis using compound semiconductors exist, they are bulky and too costly for commercial use, said Dr. Kenneth O, one of the principal investigators of the effort and director of TxACE. The researchers determined that using CMOS integrated circuits technology will make the electronic nose more affordable.
CMOS is the integrated circuits technology used to manufacture the bulk of electronics that have made smartphones, tablets and other devices possible.
The new research was presented Wednesday in a paper titled “200-280GHz CMOS Transmitter for Rotational Spectroscopy and Demonstration in Gas Spectroscopy and Breath Analysis” at the 2016 IEEE Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits in Honolulu, Hawaii.