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BETTERSENSE Report Summary

Project ID: 336917
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Spain

Mid-Term Report Summary - BETTERSENSE (Nanodevice Engineering for a Better Chemical Gas Sensing Technology)

The project has already succeeded at demonstrating the feasibility of combining light driven devices for zero-power operation with organic surface functionalization gas detection with high selectivity [Adv. Mater. 26 8017 (2014), ACS Sensors in press (2016)]. Such advancement in gas sensing technology offers new paths for truly low power chemical sensing with analytic capabilities comparable to those of complex instrumentation systems. Currently, the project development is focused on the improvement of the performances of these first prototypes by combining new device architectures based on GaN technology, methods for nanowire growth and integration, as well as molecular design methods.

As a result of these interdisciplinary activities, new unexpected findings are leading to new scientific and technological ideas. As a matter of fact, the research in GaN devices opened the door to the integration of light detection and emission functionalities in one single device, based on one single microelectronic process This has applications in integrated high resolution imaging [PCT/EP2016/065977] and luminescence measurements that are being explored in parallel projects and own start-up companies [Superlight Photonics]. Also, research in nanowire technology offered the chance of discovering a new approach for highly efficient local heating in microsensors and actuators [Sens. Actuators B 211 489 (2015), Nanoscale 8 5082 (2016), Sens. Actuators B 226 254 (2016)]. The potential for business of this idea is jointly explored in partnership with a Spanish company, SENSOTRAN, S.L. Finally, investigations in molecular sensing demonstrated that the same receptors used in this projects for selective sensing could be modified to operate in colorimetric mode. Exploratory experiments carried out in BetterSense demonstrated that these colorimetric devices could be measured without the need of highly specialized spectroscopic equipment: just with appropriate software, color correction methods and a smartphone-type camera. The viability of this and its applicability to a number of color-based measurements is being explored in a recently granted project [ERC Proof-of-Concept GasApp].

In summary, the main objectives of the project have been preliminary achieved. As a result, the work focusses now in the understanding of the technology and the improvement of the performances obtained. As a consequence, we have the chance of exploring collateral scientific and technological questions and opportunities that emerge around the initial plant.

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