Nav: Home

Optical fingerprint can reveal pollutants in the air

March 15, 2017

More efficient sensors are needed to be able to detect environmental pollution. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have proposed a new, sophisticated method of detecting molecules with sensors based on ultra-thin nanomaterials. The novel method could improve environmental sensing in the future. The results are published today in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

"This could open up new possibilities for the detection of environmental gases. Our method is more robust than conventional sensors, which rely on small changes in optical properties", says Maja Feierabend, PhD student at the Department of Physics and the main author of the article from Chalmers University of Technology and Technische Universität Berlin.

Together with her supervisor, Associate Professor Ermin Malic, and Gunnar Berghäuser, postdoctoral researcher at Chalmers, she has proposed a new type of chemical nanosensor that consists of atomically thin nanomaterials that are extremely sensitive to changes in their surroundings.

If you shine light on the sensor, you will see the optical fingerprint of the material itself. Molecules are identified by activating dark electronic states in the sensor material. If there are molecules on its surface, they will interact with these dark states and switch them on, making them visible. The result is an altered optical fingerprint, containing new features that prove the presence of the molecules.

"Our method has promising potential, paving the way for ultra-thin, fast, efficient and accurate sensors. In the future, this could hopefully lead to highly sensitive and selective sensors that can be used in environmental research", says Ermin Malic.

The researchers have filed a patent application for the novel sensor method. The next step is to work with experimental physicists and chemists to demonstrate the proof-of-principle for this new class of chemical sensors.
-end-
Read the scientific article in Nature Communications: "Proposal for dark exciton based chemical sensors"

Chalmers University of Technology

Related Molecules Articles:

The inner lives of molecules
Researchers from Canada, the UK and Germany have developed a new experimental technique to take 3-D images of molecules in action.
Novel technique helps ID elusive molecules
Stuart Lindsay, a researcher at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, has devised a clever means of identifying carbohydrate molecules quickly and accurately.
How solvent molecules cooperate in reactions
Molecules from the solvent environment that at first glance seem to be uninvolved can be essential for chemical reactions.
A new way to display the 3-D structure of molecules
Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley Researchers have developed nanoscale display cases that enables new atomic-scale views of hard-to-study chemical and biological samples.
Bending hot molecules
Hot molecules are found in extreme environments such as the edges of fusion reactors.
At attention, molecules!
University of Iowa chemists have learned about a molecular assembly that may help create quicker, more responsive touch screens, among other applications.
Folding molecules into screw-shaped structures
An international research team describes the methods of winding up molecules into screw-shaped structures.
Artificial molecules
A new method allows scientists at ETH Zurich and IBM to fabricate artificial molecules out of different types of microspheres.
Molecules that may keep you young and alive
A new study may have uncovered the fountain of youth: plant extracts containing the six best groups of anti-aging molecules ever seen.
Fun with Lego (molecules)
A great childhood pleasure is playing with LegosĀ® and marveling at the variety of structures you can create from a small number of basic elements.

Related Molecules Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".