CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Sept. 13 (UPI) -- University of Illinois researchers say they have developed a sensor array that represents an inexpensive and simple way to detect toxic industrial chemicals.
Kenneth Suslick, Schmidt professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a news release Sunday his team created an array that changes colors to indicate what type of toxic gas it has detected.
"Our device is simply a digital multidimensional extension of litmus paper. We have a six by six array of different nanoporous pigments whose colors change depending on their chemical environment," Suslick said. "The pattern of the color change is a unique molecular fingerprint for any toxic gas and also tells us its concentration."
The creation of the detection array could prove beneficial to chemists who currently lack a good method equivalent to physicists' radiation badges. A new detection effort could be invaluable in regards to monitoring if chemists are being exposed to toxic chemicals.
The director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, whose institute funded the project, applauded the paper published in the journal Nature Chemistry.
"This paper brings us one step closer to having a small wearable sensor that can detect multiple airborne toxins," NIEHS director Linda Birnbaum said.