Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute could enable better, cheaper detection of hazardous gases

Detecting trace amounts of hazardous gases present within air is a critical safety and health consideration in many different situations, from industrial manufacturing and chemical processing to bomb detection and environmental monitoring. Fazel Yavari, a doctoral student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has developed a new sensor, made from a 3-D graphene foam, to detect extremely small quantities of hazardous gases. Where modern gas sensors are bulky, expensive and need high temperatures to work, this new graphene foam sensor  works at room temperature, is considerably less expensive to make, is very sensitive to tiny amounts of gases and is about the size of a postage stamp. The sensor works by reading the changes in the graphene foam’s electrical conductivity as it encounters gas particles and they stick to the foam’s surface. This sensor opens the door to a new generation of gas detectors for use by bomb squads, defense and law enforcement officials, as well as applications in industrial settings.