Gas sensors play a vital role in today’s infrastructure. Capable of sniffing out minute levels of dangerous contaminants, they are used in homes and buildings to monitor our environment. Gas sensors have the potential to save lives, but they are not without their challenges. They tend to be large, expensive, and power-hungry, and generally detect just one-two gases rather than multiple gases. All of this makes them impractical to integrate into handheld mobile technology.
Now, however, there is a disruptive technology destined to change how gas sensors are used. Rogue Valley Microdevices has announced a strategic partnership with AerNos to manufacture ultra-miniature and ultra-precise gas sensors that:
- Expand beyond the detection of just 1-2 gases to detect multiple gases simultaneously
- Detect contaminants within 10-20 seconds – compared to the three-minute startup time plus five-15 minutes to give a gas-detection reading
- Measure precisely in parts per billion vs. parts per million
- Support integration in mobile devices, wearables, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications for smart cities and homes because they are tiny (at just 3 mm x 3 mm), low-power and affordable
- Enable personal environmental monitoring, something that has been previously unavailable
How does it work? The AerNos sensor chip uses hybrid nanostructures to detect specific gases, including nitrogen oxides, ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane, formaldehyde, and other volatile organic compounds. Carbon nanotubes are placed on top of MEMS circuitry. The resulting sensor is sufficiently small, low-power, and affordable enough to be offered as a personal gas-monitoring option in a variety of devices.
Working with AerNos is a great opportunity for us at Rogue Valley Microdevices. Together, we’ve faced a number of challenges. AerNos uses MEMS fabrication techniques on silicon combined with the precise deposition of molecular formulations at a wafer level. Our ability to offer 200mm wafers, provide small batch sizes, work with such non-standard materials as titanium and gold, and eventually support mass-production quantities were all important factors for AerNos in selecting a partner.
For Rogue Valley Microdevices, this partnership allows us to roll up our proverbial sleeves and innovate on multiple levels. Helping Aernos to bring this exciting technology to market challenges us to problem-solve while also being creative.