Sensors to save lives

Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans. - Evo Morales -

Volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, are chemicals that can harm our health. Unfortunately, they are unavoidable in our daily lives because they’re found in diesel fuel, paint, varnish, detergent and many other household products. What can we do to avoid breathing in these compounds and damaging our lungs? Associate Professor Narayanan Ramakrishnan is developing wearable sensors that could be used to detect emissions of VOCs, and potentially save lives.

Advanced sensors are needed for rapid and accurate analysis of environmental pollution, harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, and chemical and gas leakages in industries. These sensors possess high market value, as they will also be used in testing equipment used in food processing industries, detecting chemicals in warfare threats, and serving as a diagnostic tool in biomedical applications.

Associate Professor Narayanan states that advanced sensors with high sensitivity, selectivity, stability, repeatability, cost-effectiveness, low power consumption and portability are required to ensure the health and safety of mankind. The sensor being developed is based on acoustic wave technology. It will be manufactured into wearables such as watches, rings, and belts. He is also working on integrating the sensor into smartphones.

The sensors are accurate and they support the Internet of things (IoT) technology. The future will see multifunctional sensors that are able to alert people on environmental conditions without the need of power supply.

Associate Professor Narayanan and his research team were awarded two gold medals for their inventions at the most recent International Invention, Innovation & Technology Exhibition (ITEX) - World's First Compact Photolithography Equipment to Manufacture Electronic Chips, and World's First UV Dependent Piezo Capacitor: An Electronic Component Suitable for Wearable UV Sensing Applications.

The World's First Compact Photolithography Equipment to Manufacture Electronic Chips was also awarded the prestigious Asian Invention Excellence Award 2019, the top ITEX award.