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Graphene foam detects explosives, emissions better than today's gas sensors
Date:11/28/2011

venient to clean. By applying a ~100 milliampere current through the graphene structure, Koratkar's team was able to heat the graphene foam enough to unattach, or desorb, all of the adsorbed gas particles. This cleaning mechanism has no impact on the graphene foam's ability to detect gases, which means the detection process is fully reversible and a device based on this new technology would be low powerno need for external heaters to clean the foamand reusable.

Koratkar chose ammonia as a test gas to demonstrate the proof-of-concept for this new detector. Ammonium nitrate is present in many explosives and is known to gradually decompose and release trace amounts of ammonia. As a result, ammonia detectors are often used to test for the presence of an explosive. A toxic gas, ammonia also is used in a variety of industrial and medical processes, for which detectors are necessary to monitor for leaks.

Results of the study show the new graphene foam structure detected ammonia at 1,000 parts-per-million in 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. The accompanying change in the graphene's electrical resistance was about 30 percent. This compared favorably to commercially available conducting polymer sensors, which undergo a 30 percent resistance change in 5 to 10 minutes when exposed to 10,000 parts-per-million of ammonia. In the same time frame and with the same change in resistance, the graphene foam detector was 10 times as sensitive. The graphene foam detector's sensitivity is effective down to 20 parts-per-million, much lower than the commercially available devices. Additionally, many of the commercially available devices require high power consumption since they provide adequate sensitivity only at high temperatures, whereas the graphene foam detector operates at room temperature.

Koratkar's team used nitrogen dioxide as the second test gas. Different explosives including nitrocellulose gradually degrade, and are known
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Contact: Michael Mullaney
mullam@rpi.edu
518-276-6161
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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