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Tiny sensors tucked into cell phones could map airborne toxins in real time
Date:5/21/2010

of supermacro lens that works more like an animal's eye than a camera lens. The lens, developed by Rhevision, uses fluid rather than bulky moving parts to change its shape, and therefore focus.

"The beauty of this technology is that the number of sensors contained in one of our arrays is determined by the pixel resolution of the cell phone camera. With the megapixel resolution found in cell phone cameras today, we can easily probe a million different spots on our silicon sensor simultaneously. So we don't need to wire up a million individual sensors," Sailor said. "We only need one. This greatly simplifies the manufacturing process because it allows us to piggyback on all the technology development that has gone into making cell phone cameras lighter, smaller, and cheaper."

Sensitivity to additional chemicals is on the way. One of the top priorities for emergency responders is carbon monoxide, which firefighters can't smell in the midst of a sooty fire though it's deadly. Sensors on their masks could let them know when to switch to self-contained breathing devices, Sailor said. Similar sensors might warn miners of the buildup of explosive gases.

Adrian Garcia Sega, a graduate student in Sailor's laboratory, is leading the effort to develop the sensors. Gordon Miskelly, deputy director of forensic science at the University of Auckland in New Zealand developed the imaging array sensing methodology. Yu-Hwa Lo, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering and founder of Rhevision developed the lens. Truong Nguyen, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Jacobs School, is developing the computing algorithms to discriminate between different patterns.


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Contact: Michael Sailor
scinews@ucsd.edu
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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