Nanostructured Electrochemical Ozone Monitors

Longmont, CO -- Synkera Technologies, Inc. has successfully completed a SBIR Phase I grant from the National Institutes of Health aimed at developing improved ozone sensors capable of making reliable in-field exposure measurements for individuals with asthma and other respiratory diseases. The ultimate goal of the project is the development and validation of a new, personal monitor that will be able to detect low levels of ozone (<12 ppb) in real-time with the required spatial resolution in order to aid research on respiratory diseases, leading to a better understanding of how people are affected by various environmental exposures.

The sensors build upon recent advances in electrochemical sensing technology to create a next generation product that is significantly smaller, faster, more sensitive, stable and lower cost than any electrochemical sensor available today. There are three primary aspects to this innovation: integration of a solid polymer electrolyte (SPE) for leak-free, stable operation; the use of ultra-small electrodes (nano-dots) featuring nanometer length scales for increased sensitivity; and the use of a unique substrate (nanoscale anodic aluminum oxide) and manufacturing techniques for low cost, reproducible mass production of the novel sensor architecture. These features are key to creating a sensor device that is small, low power, sensitive and selective enough for use in accurate and reliable personal monitors.

Highlights of the Phase I effort include:

  • Nanoelectrode ensembles (NEEs) were fabricated using Synkera's anodic aluminum oxide platform and standard electrochemical methods

  • Robust sensors were fabricated from the NEEs

  • Sensors showed excellent sensitivity to ozone (~10 ppb) based on a signal-to-noise ratio of 3

  • Sensors exhibited good selectivity versus NO2 and formaldehyde

  • Fabrication methods indicate low cost detectors (less than $100 per detector with display and datalogging) will be achieved

In Phase II the solid-state electrochemical sensors will be optimized and electronic designs will be produced to operate the sensors. The circuitry will be microcontrolled, which will enable the required small size and desired functionality of the ultimate personal monitors. Sensors and electronics will be incorporated into prototype devices for testing and the prototype devices will be extensively field-tested with actual patients.

About Synkera Technologies
Synkera Technologies Inc., based in Longmont, CO, develops and manufactures products utilizing nanotechnology, microfabrication and advanced materials engineering. Synkera provides innovative solutions for our customers. We produce nano/micro-structured materials, components and devices focusing on chemical sensors, ceramic membranes, hydrogen purification for alternative energy sources and opto-electronics. Synkera's unique combination of proprietary processes, precision engineering and integration of advanced materials into devices brings practical products to the market for everyday use.

The project described is supported by award number R43ES017192 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official view of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences or the National Institutes of Health.