A study says that people could soon be using their smartphones to combat a deadly form of air pollution, thanks to a new low-cost method of detecting nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a significant air pollutant.
“The revolutionary method we have developed is a great start to creating a handheld, low-cost and personalised NO2 sensor that can even be incorporated into smartphones,” said project leader Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.
The negative impact of nitrogen dioxide could be prevented by access to personalised, highly selective, sensitive and reliable monitoring systems that could detect harmful levels of the gas early, Kalantar-zadeh said.
“The method we have developed is not only more cost-effective, it also works better than the sensors currently used to detect this dangerous gas,” Kalantar-zadeh said.
Kalantar-zadeh developed the new method for sensing nitrogen dioxide on smartphones together with fellow RMIT researchers and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The sensors work in a way that it is operated by physically absorbing nitrogen dioxide gas molecules onto flakes of tin disulphide, a yellowish-brown pigment generally used in varnish for gilding.
Researchers transformed the sensor material into flakes just a few atoms thick.
The main pollutant in the atmosphere, Nitrogen contributes in the form of burning of fossil fuels, particularly in coal-fired power stations and diesel engines, which can impact on the health of people in urban areas.
The study was published in the journal ACS Nano.
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