Monday, 15 August 2016
MIT team creates wearable nanotube toxic gas detectors
MIT researchers have developed a lightweight toxic gas detector for use with a smartphone, which could potentially help protect soldiers from chemical weapons as well as protect people who work with hazardous chemicals.
The device is sensitive enough to detect less than 10 parts per million of toxic gases within 5 seconds. It is a circuit with carbon nanotubes surrounded by an insulating polymer. The polymer wraps around each of the tens of thousands of nanotubes that make up the device, which separates them, making them resistant to electricity. When the device is exposed to electrophilic, or electron-loving, substances, the polymer breaks down, allowing the nanotubes to join together and increase conductivity. After the electrical resistance goes below a certain level, a near-field communication turns on, sending signals that are detectable by mobile devices with NFC technology.
Electrophilic substances include certain chemicals used in choking agents and nerve gas.