Scientists Invented A Sensor That Detects Air Pollutants In Houses

First Posted: Apr 19, 2016 05:37 AM EDT

Researchers from Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) and the University of Southampton developed the Graphene-based sensor. It is a device that can detect harmful air pollutants at your house.

According to Gizmag, the device can identify volatile organic compound (VOC) gas molecules and the airborne CO2 molecules. Graphene is described as the single thin layer of pure carbon that is linked and bonded together as hexagonal honeycomb lattice. It is considered the thinnest and lightest material and extremely sensitive in detecting chemical gases.

When VOC and CO2 molecules connect with the graphene and are then released, the electrical resistance of the graphene is modified. The sensor is capable of identifying those changes and determines any substances that are visible in the atmosphere. Lab tests were conducted and its prototype identified CO2 gas within minutes just when a gas was released in the room.

Tech Times states that the sensor could help in fighting the sick building syndrome (SBS). This is a condition wherein the occupants of the building are experiencing acute health due to spending time in the building. Among the symptoms of SBS are nausea, headaches, dry cough, allergies, eye, throat and nose irritations, fatigue, hoarseness of voice, flu-like symptoms, cold, personality changes and incidence of asthma attacks.

The sensor can identify chemical gases with the concentration of parts per million (ppm). Professor Hiroshi Mizuta, one of the researchers said that the extreme sensing technology enables them to realize important miniaturization that may result in cost and weight reduction besides its remarkable improvement detection limit from the ppm (parts-per-million) levels to ppb (parts-per-billion) levels.

Furthermore, the graphene-based sensor is very compact. It is lighter and low-cost pollutant-detecting device. It is also energy efficient that needs less than three volts to work.

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