Nanotechnology for Molecular Detection

Innovative thin films and nanotechnologies engineered to achieve outstanding performance.

Nematic Technologies develops chemical sensors based on liquid crystals and surface reaction engineering

Core Technology

The chemical sensors are substrates coated with two components:

  1. Nanomaterials that selectively bind to a specific toxic gas, and
  2. Liquid crystals that translate the molecular binding events into optical signals.

These nano-coatings are different for each type of sensor, and are engineered to enable excellent selectivity to specific toxic gases.  Nematic Technologies has developed chemical sensors for various toxic gases including hydrogen sulfide, peracetic acid, formaldehyde and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Optical Translation of Molecular Events

When a sensor is exposed to a toxic gas, the binding of the gas molecules to the surface nanomaterial produces a change in orientation of the liquid crystal molecules, which in turn leads to a change in the optical properties of the liquid crystal coating.   When viewed with crossed-polarized light, the sensors exhibit a dramatic change in brightness when exposed to the toxic gas.

See right for video of liquid crystal sensors exposed to vapors of toxic gas. The sensors respond to the toxic gas with an increase in brightness.

Measuring Toxic Gas Concentrations

The BadgAIR measures the brightness of the chemical sensors, and calculates the rate of change of this brightness signal.  A fast rate of change (high slope) in the brightness indicates a high concentration of the toxic gas.  A slow rate of change (low slope) indicates a low concentration of the toxic gas. Below, see the graphs of the brightness of the chemical sensors exposed to hydrogen sulfide (H2S) at three different concentrations.

The BadgAIR is pre-calibrated (at factory) with a standard curve that relates the calculated rate of change of the sensor brightness to the corresponding concentration of toxic gas.  Thus, the BadgAIR determines the concentration of toxic gas in an unkown air sample by comparing the response of the chemical sensor to known concentrations of the toxic gas.

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Interested in trying the BadgAIR out for yourself? Contact one of our specialists or preorder today.