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2012 Invention of the Year in Physical Sciences - Members of the Material Measurement Lab

University of Maryland, in collaboration with the National Institute for Standards and Technology and George Mason University, have developed a novel chemical sensor architecture by combining the sensitive transduction capability of semiconducting nanostructures together with the enhanced catalytic efficiency of metal and metal-oxide nanoclusters. This new technology can produce sensors whose selectivity can be precisely tuned to any small set of chemicals through the design of the nanocluster, something currently not possible with any other technology. These new sensors offer the best of both worlds: the sensitivity and selectivity of the desktop laboratory systems while consuming significantly less power than current solid state devices. Furthermore, this new technology promises to achieve parts-per-trillion sensitivity, satisfying the need for low cost, on-demand trace explosives detection. These combined attributes promise to make a sensor technology that is unmatched in terms of sensitivity, selectivity, size, power, and cost.

Created October 19, 2012, Updated December 1, 2014