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[THREATGÅRDEN] Novel Hand-Held Chemical Detector with Micro Gas Sensors

  • Published 28/02/2008
  • Last updated 08/06/2011

Frontpage report

This project was one of eight projects in the “Everyday Nano” project portfolio of the Nordic MINT initiative. The aim of the initiative was to help commercialise existing micro- and nanotechnology research relating to lifestyle, well-being and healthcare, and safety. 

The project was based on the existing technologies being developed by Environics Oy and the other partners of the project group, in particular within the CBNS technology programme coordinated by Environics Oy for the Finnish Ministry of Defence. 

The objective of the project was to form a network to develop and commercialise existing research and development. The idea was to combine an array of specially designed and novel metal oxide semiconductor micro gas sensors and field effect gas sensors with the ion mobility spectrometer in a hand-held chemical detector. With the implementation of new sensors the aims were to improve toxic agent detection and identification performance of the chemical detector. 

The main result of the project is better understanding of the micro gas sensors’ functionality in the chemical detector applications. Especially the technology know-how and implementation of the micro hot plate –based metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) gas sensors and field effect (FE) –type gas sensors, in the context of detection and identification of chemical warfare agents (CWA) and toxic industrial chemicals (TIC), has been raised to world-class leading edge level. 

The main result of the project is better understanding of the micro gas sensors’ functionality in the chemical detector applications. Especially the technology know-how and implementation of the micro hot plate –based metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) gas sensors and field effect (FE) –type gas sensors, in the context of detection and identification of chemical warfare agents (CWA) and toxic industrial chemicals (TIC), has been raised to world-class leading edge level. 

The sensitivity and selectivity of the new type of micro gas sensors against wide variety of toxic CWA and TIC agents was studied comprehensively for the first time. The results are promising and prove the feasibility of these low power and small size sensor technologies in this demanding application area. For example, the new sensors showed extraordinary good sensitivity, selectivity and stability to VX nerve gas and mustard gases. It was also shown promising sensitivity and selectivity to highly toxic TIC classified agents such as phosgene, cyanides and arsine. When these new sensors are implemented as additional sensors to the ion mobility spectrometry- and multiparameter output based CWA-TIC detector concept, the advantages such as wider detection capability and improved identification performance shall be expected. That should give a new tool for authorities to protect more efficiently citizens against toxic chemicals, whether the chemicals are released in accidents or in terrorist attacks.

Furthermore, it was also found new potential concerns related to micro hot plate MOS gas sensor technology, in general. Those include extraordinary high demands for the fabrication process to produce reliable sensors. One of the evidences of these demands is sensitive layer material dependences on selectivity and stability towards CWAs, TICs and also towards interferents. The concerns are clearly dependent on the applied materials and fabrication process details. However, the results indicate also that with the properly developed fabrication processes and applied materials the concerns can be overcome. The identification of the main concerns gives also good basis to focus the future research and development to the most important issues. 

Most of the project partners have strong intention to continue work. Industrial partners have ideas to commercialize the results and bring them available to markets. Also academic partners are interested to continue the work carried out so far by disseminating the results, finalizing dissertations and by providing their services to the new projects. 

Project duration: June 2006 - January 2008
Project #: 06071
Acronym/Short name: Threatgården
Project full name: Novel Hand-Held Chemical Detector with Micro Gas Sensors
Project Manager: Mikko Utriainen, Environics Oy, Finland