Very fine dust-related air pollution, such as the pm2.5 microscopic particles, seriously threaten human health. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution contributes to more than four million premature deaths each year. While pm10 particles 10 microns or less in diameter can also enter our lungs, smaller and finer pm2.5 particles are more dangerous, as they can penetrate the lung barrier, go straight in. Blood and chronic exposure cause serious forms of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, among many other health problems.
Currently, the concentrations of pm2.5 particles can be measured through monitoring stations located around cities and regions, and countries often use a nationwide network of these stations to track coins. air quality direction. But scientists from Austria’s Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) are working on a more flexible, compact and cost-effective solution that can warn individual users about dangerous conditions. air in real time.
The sensor, the black square in the center of the board, measures 12 x 9 x 3 mm.
Specifically, the researchers collaborated with semiconductor maker Ams AG and scientists at Silicon Austria Laboratories to obtain devices used in conventional air quality monitoring devices. and shrink them to the smallest size possible. The result of this effort is a sensor measuring 12 x 9 x 3 mm, which is only slightly smaller than when two 1 euro coins are stacked.
“The sensor is at the very limits of its physical and engineering feasibility, involving a lot of tricks to work at this size”Said Paul Maierhofer, who led the study.
At this size, the sensor can easily be integrated into a smartphone, smartwatch or fitness bracelet to monitor the air for real-time fine particles and even alerts to the user when their surroundings are dangerously high. The team envisions this helping users form healthy habits by giving a clearer picture of where pollution accumulates in the local area they live in.
Alexander Bergmann, head of the Institute of Electrical Measurement and Sensing Systems at TU Graz and oversees Paul Maierhofer’s doctoral research, said: “Users can spot and avoid exceptionally polluted routes when running or on their way to work.”
What’s more, the team says the sensor can also be used indoors or in outdoor local applications, at a significantly lower cost compared to existing solutions.
“Comprehensive and closed air quality monitoring has so far failed due to the size, complexity and cost of existing measurement sensors”, Mr. Bergmann said. “And our particle sensor has filled a void here.”