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First air quality sensor to distinguish PM2.5, pollen and dust

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a small, high-precision air-quality sensor, claimed to be the first in the world to detect fine particles measuring no more than 2.5µm in diameter, called PM2.5, as well as pollen and dust. It also senses the density of particles precisely.

Scattered light from PM2.5 particles is measured with a double-sided mirror design, which is said to collect about 1.8 times more scattered light than conventional single-sided designs. Mitsubishi says its shape-discrimination algorithm distinguishes between pollen and dust based on the respective differences in the optical characteristics of their scattered light.

PM2.5 is said to have caused air pollution and health-related issues in countries such as China, India and Japan. The trend has raised public concerns and increased the demand for high-precision air-quality sensors to detect PM2.5. At present, however, high-precision sensors for PM2.5 are large and expensive, limiting their applications to commercial use only.

Mitsubishi’s air-quality sensor prototype consists of a laser diode, aspheric lens, light-collecting mirror, photodetector and airflow controller. The prototype measures 67 x 49 x 35mm. The minimum size of a detectable particle is claimed to be 0.3µm.

Tom Austin-Morgan

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