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

to produce nitrogen dioxide gas as a byproduct. As a result, nitrogen dioxide also is used as a marker when testing for explosives. Additionally, nitrogen dioxide is a common pollutant found in combustion and auto emissions. Many different environmental monitoring systems feature real-time nitrogen dioxide detection.

The new graphene foam sensor detected nitrogen dioxide at 100 parts-per-million by a 10 percent resistance change in 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. It showed to be 10 times more sensitive than commercial conducting polymer sensors, which typically detect nitrogen dioxide at 1,000 part-per-million in the same time and with the same resistance chance at room temperature. Other nitrogen dioxide detectors available today require high power consumption and high temperatures to provide adequate sensitivity. The graphene foam sensor can detect nitrogen dioxide down to 20 parts-per-million at room temperature.

"We see this as the first practical nanostructure-based gas detector that's viable for commercialization," said Koratkar, a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer. "Our results show the graphene foam is able to detect ammonia and nitrogen dioxide at a concentration that is an order of magnitude lower than commercial gas detectors on the market today."

The graphene foam can be engineered to detect many different gases beyond ammonia and nitrogen dioxide, he said.

Studies have shown the electrical conductivity of an individual nanotube, nanowire, or graphene sheet is acutely sensitive to gas adsorbtion. But the small size of individual nanostructures made it costly and challenging to develop into a device, plus the structures are delicate and often don't yield consistent results.

The new graphene foam gas sensor overcomes these challenges. It is easy to handle and manipulate because of its large, macroscale size. The sensor a
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Contact: Michael Mullaney
mullam@rpi.edu
518-276-6161
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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