OSU Patents New Tech

Gas Sensors from Nanocomposite Thin-films

By Sidney ReillySciShort_4_9_15

OSU engineers have just filed for a patent on an insane new technology, developed right here in Corvallis, that makes low-cost gas sensors. The teeny, tiny, super thin film-based sensors can detect gases, particularly carbon dioxide, extremely well and for an unprecedented low production cost. The implications for this technology stretch across the spectrum of products both commercial and for the home. In other words, back up the Brink’s truck.

“Optical sensing is very effective in sensing and identifying trace-level gases, but often uses large laboratory devices that are terribly expensive and can’t be transported into the field,” said Alan Wang in a press release. Wang is a photonics expert and assistant professor at OSU who worked on the project.

“By contrast, we use optical approaches that can be small, portable, and inexpensive,” Wang continued. “This system used plasmonic nanocrystals that act somewhat like a tiny lens, to concentrate a light wave and increase sensitivity.”

The sensors use metal-organic thin-films to capture the gases for analysis, which will allow them to put the technology in portable devices. This is a game changer that will allow the discovery to be utilized in a host of new cost-effective ways, and in hard-to-reach places that have never been accessible. You can see how lucrative a discovery like this could prove to be.

Gas detection technology may not sound that sexy, but it has applications in bomb detection, blood alcohol level identification, and a host of other possible Homeland and Law & Order: SVU subplots. So think about that next time you trash science’s contributions to society.

Do you have a story for The Advocate? Email editor@corvallisadvocate.com