Cell phones may soon be able to detect carbon monoxide and other dangerous toxins found in gasoline and chemical warfare agents using a tiny silicon chip sensing system developed by researchers at UCSD and Rhevision, Inc. Embedded within the silicon sensor are hundreds of separate spots that can change color in response to specific chemicals. By capturing the pattern of color changes using a new kind of supermacro lens, researchers at UCSD plan to create a versatile sensor small enough to fit into a cell phone that can recognize a wide variety of chemical hazards.
From the press release:
Already their chips can distinguish between methyl salicylate, a compound used to simulate the chemical warfare agent mustard gas, and toluene, a common additive in gasoline. Potentially, they could discriminate among hundreds of different compounds and recognize which might be harmful.
“The beauty of this technology is that the number of sensors contained in one of our arrays is determined by the pixel resolution of the cell phone camera. With the megapixel resolution found in cell phone cameras today, we can easily probe a million different spots on our silicon sensor simultaneously. So we don’t need to wire up a million individual sensors,” Sailor [Michael Sailor, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSD] said. “We only need one. This greatly simplifies the manufacturing process because it allows us to piggyback on all the technology development that has gone into making cell phone cameras lighter, smaller, and cheaper.”
Press release: Cell Phone Sensors for Toxins Developed at UC San Diego…