Detect air pollution with low cost nano-sensors

Wed, 2017-07-19 14:48 -- SCC India Staff

Air pollution

A team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has developed a highly sensitive low-cost nanosensor to detect carbon monoxide levels, a step forward in environmental pollution monitoring. These nanosensors can be even synced with a smartphone or a small device at every traffic signal, which can transmit the data through Bluetooth.

How did IISc achieve this unique feat? As per the statement released by the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE), the team utilised a low-cost fabrication technique that leaves out lithography—a time-consuming and expensive process—to construct a honeycomb-like structure made up of zinc-oxide. Since optical sensors are heavier, the devised developed by IISc scientists is just 1 mm!

While the scientists developed sensors with varying widths of the honeycomb pattern, the one with the smallest width (approximately 100 nm) could detect a difference in CO level as low as 500 parts per billion and selectively responded to CO even in the presence of other gases. In addition, the process only takes a few minutes, while lithography-based multi-step methods can take several hours.