DEC 02, 2020 1:44 PM PST

New sensor detects hydrogen using light instead of heat

A new hydrogen sensor has been developed by researchers at RMIT University in Australia using light instead of heat. The sensor’s design was inspired by the microstructure surface of butterfly wings. The prototype is described in the journal ACS Sensors.

Leaked hydrogen in a closed environment is a safety risk because increases the risk of combustion and explosion. People breathing in such a space can also experience the depression of all the senses in addition to headaches, nausea, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness.

Composed of photonic or colloidal crystals, the sensor is powered by light. "The photonic crystals enable our sensor to be activated by light and they also provide the structural consistency that's critical for reliable gas sensing," said first author Ebtsam Alenezy. "Having a consistent structure, consistent fabrication quality, and consistent results are vital - and that's what nature has delivered for us through these bioinspired shapes. The well-developed fabrication process for photonic crystals also means our technology is easily scalable to industrial levels, as hundreds of sensors could be rapidly produced at once."

Another benefit of the new sensor is that it generates extremely precise results at room temperature; conventional commercial hydrogen sensors require temperatures of 150 degrees Celsius or higher to function.

As co-lead researcher Dr. Ylias Sabri explains, the prototype can detect hydrogen at concentrations of 10 parts per million molecules to 40,000 parts per million. "Some sensors can measure tiny amounts, others can detect larger concentrations; they all need a lot of heat to work. Our hydrogen sensor can do it all - it's sensitive, selective, works at room temperature, and can detect across a full range of levels."

Photo: Pixabay

While the sensor is still in the prototype stage, the researchers say it is cost-effective and scalable, in addition to its other desirous benefits. These characteristics make it well-suited for applications in the medical field as well as in the growing hydrogen economy.

Co-lead researcher Dr. Ahmad Kandjani comments: "Hydrogen has potential to be the fuel of the future but we know safety fears could affect public confidence in this renewable energy source. By delivering precise and reliable sensing technology that can detect the tiniest of leaks, well before they become dangerous, we hope to contribute to advancing a hydrogen economy that can transform energy supplies around the world."

Sources: ACS Sensors, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JAN 17, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Cleaning up microfibers at the source with electrolytic oxidation
JAN 17, 2021
Cleaning up microfibers at the source with electrolytic oxidation
A new method of eradicating microplastics in wastewater has been described in a study published recently in the Env ...
FEB 12, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Unlocking the enigma of platinum catalysts
FEB 12, 2021
Unlocking the enigma of platinum catalysts
Research published in Nature Communications reports new information identifying the specific roles that platinum na ...
MAR 04, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
The magic vibrational powers of frog lungs
MAR 04, 2021
The magic vibrational powers of frog lungs
Ever tried picking someone up at a loud, crowded bar? It’s not easy – not only may they not hear your fabulo ...
MAR 07, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Why Are Egg Cells So Large?
MAR 07, 2021
Why Are Egg Cells So Large?
If you've ever seen a video of a sperm cell fertilizing an egg cell, you've probably noticed the huge size difference. T ...
MAR 31, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
A Non-Invasive Look at Fat Distribution in the Liver
MAR 31, 2021
A Non-Invasive Look at Fat Distribution in the Liver
The build-up of fat inside the liver is a worrying sign that points to the possibility of conditions such as nonalcoholi ...
APR 05, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Is it possible to use fish guts to make plastic?
APR 05, 2021
Is it possible to use fish guts to make plastic?
In a presentation at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers discuss the possibility of using f ...
Loading Comments...