Artificial “noses” that can detect specific gases already exist. But they cannot determine with any certainty the different gases within a mixture. To resolve this issue, Professor Yves-Alain Peter, a microphotonics expert, took it upon himself to assemble on a single matrix a set of optical sensors, each of which reacts differently to a specific gas. This enables the device to duplicate the signature properties of a gas mixture.
To come up with this solution, Professor Peter’s team integrates in each optical sensor a polymer whose geometric and optical features change according to a specific gas. The changes are detected by an optical microresonator recording variations in resonant wavelengths. That signal is what determines the presence of gas.
This technology is the subject of a patent filed with the help of Univalor, and can be used in practical applications for various industries, including food, mining and environmental but also biomedical, which could use it, for instance, as a breathalyzer diagnostic tool.