NASA requires the need for simultaneous monitoring of multiple gases such as methanethiol, ammonia, water, oxygen, in the design of advanced space suit portable life support systems. Due to current technology gaps, existing commercial products cannot meet NASA`s requirements, especially when considering selectivity, form-factor, weight, cost and power consumption. To bridge this gap and meet NASA`s critical needs, Serinus Labs will use standard CMOS technology to demonstrate a highly miniturized, low-cost multi-gas sensor chip that can sensitively and selectively detect methanethiol, ammonia, water and oxygen in gas streams, with power consumption in the low micro-Watts. The multi-gas sensor chip will be based on silicon chemical sensitive field effect transistor (CS-FET) arrays. CS-FETs are similar to conventional bulk silicon MOSFETs with the exception of the electrical gate that is replaced by a nanoscale chemical sensing layer. These layers are electrically floating and can be comprised of single or multi-element metallic nanoparticles, thin film metal oxides and polymers. Gas interaction with a specific layer can induce electrical and/or morphological changes which are then capacitively amplified as large modulations in transistor current.
This technology will greatly benefit next generation portable life support systems for astronauts. It will also open new opportunities in the design of low cost, low payload micro-probe gas sensor networks that can be deployed over a large area to analyze and understand a planet`s atmospheric conditions.
The multi-gas sensor chip will have a multitude of potential use cases such as in industrial heath and safety, home automation, personal indoor and outdoor air quality monitors, cabin climate control in the automotive sector, breath analysis for early warning disease diagnosis in the medical sector. Of particular impact, would be the adoption of these highly miniaturized low power multi-gas sensor chips into consumer electronics such as smart watches and wearables by major manufacturers.