Scientists pioneer graphene sensor to potentially improve air quality testing

7 May 2013

Prof Georg Duesberg, principal investigator at CRANN

Researchers at the Irish nanoscience institute CRANN have manufactured a new graphene-based sensor they believe could have future commercial applications in air quality control systems, particularly in the car manufacturing space, because of its greater detection capacity.

The researchers, who are based at CRANN at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), have published their findings in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Led by CRANN principal investigator Prof Georg Duesberg, the researchers have manufactured a sensor that is composed of a single layer of graphene on a silicon surface.

Often termed the ‘wonder material’, graphene consists of a sheet of carbon atoms, just one atom thick or about one hundred-thousandth the width of one human hair. It is believed to be 200 times stronger than steel.

Due to its unique properties, scientists are looking into the potential for graphene to be used in sensors to detect even the slightest change in signal.

The researchers at CRANN believe their sensor discovery could have commercial uses in air quality control systems, particularly in car manufacturing, where air quality is impacted by smog, exhaust fumes, odours and dust.

They also suggest that their graphene sensor discovery could lead to the improved detection of bacteria and parasites in drinking water.

Duesberg said the discovery could pave the way for much more functionally advanced and energy-efficient sensors.

“It could vastly improve the monitoring of air and water quality,” he said.

Duesberg is one of the researchers involved in the Graphene Flagship project that has been awarded €1bn from the European Commission to explore the commercial potential of graphene over the next 10 years.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic