APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Explosion hazard warning system for buildings
- Natural gas leak detector for residential or commercial buildings
- Portable gas detector, e.g., cell phone application
- Hydrogen leak detector or toxic emission prevention for automobile industry
- Real time, accurate detection of nearly any concentration of a hazardous gas
- Programmable to detect a specific gas or measure changes in gas concentration or pressure over time
- Affordable mass production
- More energy efficient than current gas sensors
Andreas Schmid of Berkeley Lab and his colleagues from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, and Instituto de Química-Física Rocasolano have invented a cost efficient, compact gas sensor that reads the input, or the signal of the gas, and sends the information to a data processor such as a desktop computer, microprocessor, or microcontroller.
The Berkeley Lab invention is a unique hydrogen microchip sensor capable of detecting “easy axis switching,” or magnetization reversal, a property exhibited by a ferromagnetic material when the direction of its magnetization vector reverses in the presence of an ambient gas such as hydrogen. Unlike conventional gas sensors, which require more complex input/output setups to detect and analyze an ambient gas, the Berkeley Lab invention consists of thin film ferromagnetic layers that can detect trace amounts of hydrogen gas at partial pressures in the region of 10–10 Torr or less—a degree of sensitivity that surpasses the current state of the art. In addition, its microintegrated input/output layers prevent data processing delays, allowing the real time detection and analysis of hazardous gas levels. The invention can also be programmed to detect more than one type of hazardous gas and to determine when a concentration of a particular gas has reached a hazardous level.
Furthermore, the invention promises more affordable fabrication costs than conventional methods, as its microfabricated design may be mass produced at a minimal expense. It may also consume less power than gas sensors in use today, resulting in energy cost savings.
STATUS: Published patent application US2010/032990 available at www.wipo.int. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Modeled concept. Additional R&D required to build a prototype.
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
Nano Piano Omni Sensor, IB-2267
Miniature Airborne Particle Mass Monitors, IB-1850, 2149
REFERENCE NUMBER: JIB-2689