Your smartphones could soon help you combat a deadly form of air pollution, thanks to a new low-cost and reliable method of detecting nitrogen dioxide - a significant air pollutant, scientists say.
The gas increases the risk of respiratory disorders in children and can severely affect the elderly in particular, they said.
"The revolutionary method we've developed is a great start to creating a handheld, low-cost and personalised NO2 sensor that can even be incorporated into smartphones," project leader Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, from RMIT's Centre for Advanced Electronics and Sensors (CADES), said.
"Not only would it improve the quality of millions of people's lives, but it would also help avoid illness caused by nitrogen dioxide poisoning and potentially even death," said Kalantar-zadeh.
The main contributors of nitrogen dioxide are the burning of fossil fuels, particularly in coal-fired power stations and diesel engines, which can impact the health of people in urban areas.
"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," said Kalantar-zadeh.
Kalantar-zadeh developed the new method for sensing nitrogen dioxide together with fellow RMIT researchers and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The sensors, which operate by physically absorbing nitrogen dioxide gas molecules onto flakes of tin disulphide, not only increase the level of sensitivity to accepted EPA standards, but outperform any other nitrogen dioxide sensing solutions on the market.
Tin disulphide is a yellowish-brown pigment generally used in varnish for gilding. To create sensors, researchers transformed this material into flakes just a few atoms thick.
The research was published in the journal ACS Nano.
Source: NDTV Gadgets