Scientists create power-efficient graphene sensor to detect pollution

London, April 16 (IANS) Scientists have created a graphene-based sensor and switch that can detect harmful air pollution in the home with very low power consumption.

“In contrast to the commercially available environmental monitoring tools, this extreme sensing technology enables us to realise significant miniaturisation, resulting in weight and cost reduction in addition to the remarkable improvement in the detection limit from the ppm levels to the ppb levels,” said professor Hiroshi Mizuta, who led the research team.

The sensor detects individual CO2 molecules and volatile organic compound (VOC) gas molecules found in building and interior materials, furniture and even household goods, which adversely affect our living in modern houses with good insulation.

These harmful chemical gases have low concentrations of ppb (parts per billion) levels and are extremely difficult to detect with current environmental sensor technology, which can only detect concentrations of parts per million (ppm), said the researchers in their paper published recently in the journal Science Advances.

The team, comprising researchers from the University of Southampton and the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, also recently developed graphene-based switches.

The switches require remarkably low voltages (below three volts) and can be used to power electronic components on demand.

Mizuta’s research group is now aiming to bring the two technologies together to create ultra-low-power environmental sensor systems that can detect single molecules.

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