Latest in Science

Image credit:

Spongy electronic 'nose' can sniff out nerve gas and pesticides

It's the most sensitive gas detector of its kind.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
July 5, 2016
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

When you're trying to detect extremely dangerous chemicals, you don't want to mess around -- even a tiny amount can spell big trouble. It's a good thing, then, that Belgian researchers have developed what could be the most sensitive gas sensor to date. Their electronic 'nose' uses spongy metal-organic frameworks (below) that can absorb and flag extremely tiny amounts of the phosphonates you find in harmful gases like sarin (aka a form of nerve gas) or pesticides. It's so sensitive that, in some cases, it can find just a few parts per trillion -- even the cleverest evildoer would likely have trouble hiding a chemical weapon.

The kicker is that it's extremely portable. You could apply the framework as a film on an existing circuit, so you could use your smartphone to spot chemicals. And yes, it'd be useful for more than security checks. KU Leuven imagines using this to spot lung cancer in your breath, or to determine whether or not your food has gone bad. You might never have to wonder whether or not an object is hiding something nasty, as the answer would always be close at hand.

KU Leuven's super-sensitive chemical sensor

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Animal Crossing fans get real about the fictional NookPhone

Animal Crossing fans get real about the fictional NookPhone

View
Facebook envisions using holographics for super-slim VR glasses

Facebook envisions using holographics for super-slim VR glasses

View
100 million people watch YouTube on TVs each month

100 million people watch YouTube on TVs each month

View
PlayStation is the latest to join the Facebook ad boycott

PlayStation is the latest to join the Facebook ad boycott

View
Amazon-owned Ring is preparing its first smart light bulb

Amazon-owned Ring is preparing its first smart light bulb

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr