New generation amperometric gas sensors

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


The need for measurements of chemicals is ubiquitous. This project proposes entirely new concepts to transform the performance of electro-chemical gas sensors - for which the world market is estimated at 1.5 billion annually, with applications in environmental monitoring, automotive emission control, industrial safety and medical treatment.Consultants Frost and Sullivan say 'a general demand from the end user is for an instrument that is smaler in size, cheaper in price, and versatile in functionality'. Electrochemical methods are widely used especially where low cost, compact and low power sensors are needed. Such sensors are also highly suitable where reliable, remote monitoring is needed. Illustrative examples of applications include CO detectors in smoke alarms, oxygen sensors, chlorine sensors used in water treatment, hydrogen sulphide and nitrogen dioxide sensors used in environmental monitoring and ozone sensors used in atmospheric sensing.Current electrochemical sensors were based on a design developed as long ago as 1956! Discussions with manufacturers and users of gas sensors have convinced the applicants of an urgent need for a new generation of amperometric sensors. It is the purpose of the work suggested in this proposal to provide these new sensors by using the special properties of liquids composed entirely of ions (charged particles) in combination with electrodes of the tiniest size possible to make much faster responding sensors, much longer lived sensors, sensors which have no need for calibration and sensors which can be easily used at low and high temperatures.
Description Next generation gas sensors need to address the capability to work in advanced autonomous networks. The research undertaken in this project focused strongly on quantitative understanding, developing robust numerical models and novel detection strategies. The models developed will allow the efficiency of the new detection approaches to be assessed as part of a wider network model.
Exploitation Route The numerical models, experimental protocols and advanced sensing strategies have been presented in the academic literature allowing researchers to employ these new strategies in their respective research fields.
Sectors Education,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

Description The development of high resolution nanoelectrode structures and the application of electrochemical techniques for sensing applications, are areas of intense international research and commercial activity. Research outcomes and potential applications of these technologies were presented to a Chinese academic delegation visiting Cambridge in 2009 and led to the development of a joint summer training programme targeting undergraduate students considering studying abroad for a PhD or Masters course. This new initiative between the Department of Chemical Engineering in Cambridge and Beijing University of Chemical Technology (BUCT) began in July 2010 with a group of students and academics attending Cambridge for two weeks as well as visiting a number of other UK Universities following the end of the training course. Whilst in Cambridge the academic visitors and students attended a series of lectures in multidisciplinary subjects, seminars given by industrial companies and external professors, lab tours and laboratory sessions. There were also presentations from the Chinese Embassy Education Section and the China-Britain Business Council. The visitors met current postgraduate students and took part in a series of intercultural activities with members of the Department. As a rest of this inaugural programme a long term comprehensive and constructive collaboration is currently under development with the aims of establishing key research interests between the Universities and gaining a mutual understanding of culture, education, research and student experience within the two institutions. In addition a number of student participants are now engaged in PhD research in the Department. .
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Chemicals,Education,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Title Microfluidic reactor for electrochemical sensing of microdroplets 
Description Prototype electrochemical reactors were fabricated and tested for the realtime voltammetric counting and sensing of liquid droplets flowing within an immiscible liquid carrier stream. The prototype reactors employed high resolution electrode sensors which were patterned onto reactor walls using photolithographic methods in combination with metal evaporation. The generic approach yielded high throughput droplet counting devices. 
Type Of Technology Physical Model/Kit