Multi-Analyte Nanoelectronic Air Pollutant SensorsEPA Contract Number: EPD04045
Title: Multi-Analyte Nanoelectronic Air Pollutant Sensors
Investigators: Star, Alexander
Small Business: Nanomix Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Project Period: March 1, 2004 through August 31, 2004
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2004) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Nanotechnology , SBIR - Nanotechnology , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Nanomix, Inc., proposes to develop and commercialize nanoelectronic chemical sensors for the detection and measurement of air pollution. The end product of the work, a tiny, low-cost nanosensor chip, will measure concentrations of three different analytes down to the single molecule level. The proposed work is an extension of the gas sensing technology developed at Nanomix, Inc., using carbon nanotube sensing arrays. The sensors will bring the intrinsic advantages of nanotechnology—small size, low power consumption, and low cost—to the problem of air pollution measurement. A nanoelectronic sensor is the ideal solution for nonpoint source pollutant monitoring. It is tiny, battery operated, built to sense multiple analytes, and capable of integration into a wireless network. Nanosensors can be used to catalog and monitor fugitive emissions; detect leaks from manufacturing operations, storage tanks, and pipelines; and measure worker exposure in real time.
The goal of this Phase I research project is to build and demonstrate a nanosensor prototype to detect and measure real-time concentrations of three types of analytes: (1) aromatic hydrocarbons; (2) acidic gases (e.g., HCl, HF, SOx, NOx); and (3) basic gases (e.g., NH3). The sensor itself consists of two major components: (1) a transducer array made of single-wall carbon nanotubes on a complementary metal oxide semiconductor silicon substrate, and (2) chemical recognition layers or coatings that increase the transducer's sensitivity and selectivity to the target analytes. The major focus of Phase I will be the selection of a recognition chemistry for each analyte and sensor array fabrication and testing in a laboratory environment. Nanomix, Inc., already has developed the underlying transducer architecture.
Nanoelectronic sensing technology promises to offer an order of magnitude reduction in the cost of the sensor components, enabling sensor deployment on a much wider scale. Successful commercialization of the technology will allow designers to place air pollution sensors anywhere and everywhere they are useful for leak detection and air quality monitoring. This innovation will bring significant improvements in the detection and monitoring of hazardous air pollutants and will help environmental regulatory agencies fulfill their mission to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment.