Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New microsensor measures volatile organic compounds in water and air on-site

19.09.2007
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a miniature sensor that uses polymer membranes deposited on a tiny silicon disk to measure pollutants present in aqueous or gaseous environments. An array of these sensors with different surface coatings could be used during field-testing to rapidly detect many different chemicals.

Since this new sensor allows water and air samples to be analyzed in the field, it is an improvement over classical techniques that require samples be carried back to the laboratory for analysis. This research, funded by the National Science Foundation, was presented on August 20 at the American Chemical Society’s 234th National Meeting.

The heart of the disk-shaped sensor is a microbalance that measures the mass of pollutant molecules.

“When pollutant chemicals get adsorbed to the surface of the sensor, a frequency change of the vibrating microbalance provides a measure of the associated mass change,” said Oliver Brand, associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Cantilever-type balances, which move up and down like a diving board, are common when measuring the amount of a chemical in the gas phase. However, the mechanical vibrations of the balance used to detect the mass changes are damped in liquids, causing the sensitivity of the balance to decrease. Thus, Brand and graduate students Jae Hyeong Seo, Stuart Truax and Kemal Safak Demirci searched for structures whose vibrations were less affected by the surrounding medium.

The researchers chose a silicon disk platform for the sensor. The disk shears back and forth around its center with a characteristic resonance frequency between 300 and 1,000 kHz, depending on its geometry. With proper actuation and sensing elements integrated onto the microstructures, Brand can electrically excite the resonator and sense these rotational oscillations.

Since each sensor has a diameter of approximately 200-300 microns, or the average diameter of a human hair, an array of a dozen sensors is only a few millimeters in size.

To determine how to selectively detect multiple pollutants in the same sample, Brand began collaborating with Boris Mizaikoff, an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of its Applied Sensors Laboratory.

Mizaikoff and graduate students Gary Dobbs and Yuliya Luzinova selected commercially available hydrophobic polymers and deposited them as thin film membranes on the sensor surface. They continue to investigate innovative ways to consistently deposit the polymers at the disk surface, while ensuring sufficient adhesion for long-term field applications.

“By modifying the silicon transducer surface with different polymer membranes, each sensor becomes selective for groups of chemicals,” explained Mizaikoff.

An array of these sensors, each sensor with a different chemically modified transducer surface, can sense different pollutants in a variety of environments ranging from industrial to environmental and biomedical monitoring applications.

Brand and Mizaikoff aim to detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in aqueous and gaseous environments. VOCs are pollutants of high prevalence in the air and surface and ground waters. They are emitted from products such as paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment and craft materials.

A common VOC is benzene, with a maximum contaminant level set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at five micrograms per liter in drinking water. Many VOCs are present at similar very low concentrations, so effective sensors must accurately measure and discriminate very small mass changes.

“We’ve been able to measure concentrations among the lowest levels that have been achieved using this type of resonant microsensor,” noted Brand. “While we have not achieved the required sensitivity yet, we are constantly making improvements.”

Brand and Mizaikoff have tested their sensor device in the laboratory by pumping water with specific pollutant concentrations through a simple flow cell device attached to the sensor.

A typical test begins by flowing a water sample containing a known amount of pollutant over a sensor coated with a polymer membrane. When the sample flows through the cell, the mass of the microstructure increases, causing its characteristic vibration frequency, or resonance frequency, to decrease. By monitoring this resonance frequency over time, Brand and Mizaikoff can detect the amount of aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene present in water.

The researchers plan to run field trials to investigate the use of this new microsensor in aqueous and gaseous environments for rapid on-site screening of multiple pollutants.

“With benzene and other VOCs high on the EPA priority pollutant list, it would be a major advantage to get a rapid reading of VOC concentrations directly in the field,” said Mizaikoff.

John Toon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

Further reports about: Frequency Mizaikoff Polymer VOC concentrations microsensor pollutant

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>