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Irish lab develops sensor to improve air and water quality testing

Trinity-based science laboratory CRANN has developed a new graphene sensor that can detect even the slightest change in signal.

THE ABILITY OF sensors to test the quality of air and water could be drastically improved following a breakthrough at the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN).

The Trinity-based science laboratory has developed a sensor that is composed of a single layer of graphene on a silicon surface, which is both conductive and light.

Sensors that contain graphene can detect even the slightest change in signal. The material is a one-atom thick sheet of carbon, and is 200 times stronger than steel.

CRANN believe that this new sensor will have commercial applications in air quality control systems such as the air conditioning systems in cars, as well as being able to better detect the presence of bacteria and parasites in drinking water supplies.

Potential medical applications include the improved identification of bacteria in a patient’s exhaled air, leading to a quicker, more accurate diagnosis in the case of certain diseases.

Professor Georg Duesberg, who is one CRANN’s 19 principal investigators, said that the discovery was “one of the most exciting in sensor-development to date.”

It could lead to sensors that are much more functionally advanced, cost effective and energy efficient than those currently available and could vastly improve the monitoring of air and water quality.

Read: ‘Human brain cells in mice’ technique could help tackle Parkinson’s >

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Paul Hyland

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