New nanosensor technology from the Institute of Microelectronics

New nanosensor technology from the Institute of Microelectronics

31. 08. 2012

The chemical nanosensor developed at the Brno University of Technology, Institute of Microelectronics, represents a unique sensor construction, formed by an organized field of appropriately linked nanosensors that combine to create a 3D system.

Miniature chemical sensors are usually formed as a planar or sandwich structure of layers containing nanocrystals or molecules, whereby electrodes are usually on one plane. In the case of the sensor developed by our researchers, however, electrodes are not oriented on one plane, which means solutions or gases can advantageously flow freely between nanosensors as if through a microchannel.

This is a completely new product, characterized by the vertical structure of the nanosensors in relation to the surface (to the planar structure) and which can be formed into 1D, 2D and 3D sensor structures, providing a qualitative improvement of parameters.

So far, materials have been sought with high sensitivity and deposited in a planar manner. In terms of microsensor structure, use of these materials has meant a compromise between the active surface and total dimensions of the sensor. Thanks to the material’s excellent sensitivity, limits of under 1 ppm to a level of tens of ppb have been achieved, which is not possible through commonly used layer methods, even when nanoparticles are used.

Instead of the method used to date, namely sandwiching the sensitive material using various means (vacuum, printing, spin-coating and the chemical oxidation of metals) on electrodes or under electrodes, a new system was designed of highly organized nanostructures on the surface. This system of nanostructures can be made either using a porous mask, realized through lithography, or using self-arrangement during the anodization of some metals. For creating nanostructures in pores, spray-on methods, impregnation from a sol-gel solution and chemical or electrochemical deposition can be used.

The advantages of the above-mentioned product are quite obvious:

  • Thanks to the vertical structure of the nanosensors, a field of nanosensors can be made;
  • High organization guarantees high density with simultaneous space for diffusion of the ions or molecules which are detected;
  • The above-mentioned solution enables very low limits of detection to be reached - at the level of units of ppb, or under ppb.

Chemical nanosensor technology will find its application particularly in companies that produce chemical sensors and safety devices, also in the military and anti-chemical defence industry. An alternative use is possible in the form of thermo-insulating double-jacket panels that could be cooled with gas or fluid for microdevices.

The unique design of the chemical nanosensor has needed protection, both by patent and as a utility model.

FaLang translation system by Faboba