Peaks of Interest- MIT Develops Tiny Gas Sensor

March 1, 2008

LCGC North America

LCGC North America, LCGC North America-03-01-2008, Volume 26, Issue 3
Page Number: 236

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, are designing a tiny sensor that can detect minute quantities of hazardous gases more efficiently and quickly than current devices on the market.

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, are designing a tiny sensor that can detect minute quantities of hazardous gases more efficiently and quickly than current devices on the market. The researchers, led by MIT professor Akintunde Ibitayo Akinwande, are utilizing the common technique of GC–MS and shrinking them to fit into a device the size of a computer mouse. Their detector, which researchers plan to have completed within two years, uses GC–MS to identify gas molecules by their telltale electronic signatures.

According to Akinwande, scaling down gas detectors makes them much easier to use in a real-world environment, where they could be dispersed in a building or outdoor area.

Current versions of portable GC–MS machines take about 15 min to produce results, use 10,000 joules of energy, and are about the size of a full paper grocery bag. This new smaller version consumes about 4 joules of energy and produces results in about 4 s.