11 May 2012

Peratech creates innovative ‘electronic nose’ using QTC technology

UK firm Peratech has created an 'electronic nose' that detects the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and could integrate into paper or clothing to alert a user to the presence of harmful gases.

The sensor was developed using the company's Quantum Tunnelling Composite (QTC) technology which has previously been used for pressure sensitive touch screens. The material won Peratech a Judges' Special Award at the 2011 British Engineering Excellence Awards (BEEAs).

QTC materials change their resistance when force is applied, and in this case, the polymer content of the composite swells when exposed to VOCs. One example of the sensor uses a granular QTC material to provide a high surface area of absorption and detect levels of VOCs in the region of 10 to 100ppm.

The sensor can recover in a matter of seconds once VOCs have left the surrounding atmosphere, which Peratech believes will set it apart from other similar technologies. QTC is also said to have low power requirements.

"The electronic nose application was developed in conjunction with the Quantum Tunnelling Composite research group at the University of Durham," explained David Lussey, cto of Peratech. "We are now looking for companies who are interested in licensing the technology from us to develop products."

Simon Fogg

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