Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed the first low-cost and reliable method of detecting nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

NO2 is considered a significant air pollutant that contributes to more than seven million deaths worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The gas increases the risk of respiratory disorders in children and can severely affect the elderly in particular.

Project leader Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, from RMIT's Centre for Advanced Electronics and Sensors, said 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.

"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," Kalantar-zadeh 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," Kalantar-zadeh added.

"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," he noted.
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.

The study is published in the journal ACS Nano.


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