Joined: 16 Mar 2004
|Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:58 am Post subject: Nanotechnology could catch drunk drivers
|Ultra-small technology could soon help make roads safer by detecting drivers who have been drinking.
Researchers at Harbin Engineering University in China have harnessed nanotechnology to make an improved breathalyzer. The team arranged zinc oxide into "nanoflowers" - a completely new nanostructure.
The zinc oxide bits in the structure measure 15 nanometers in diameter. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.
Zinc oxide is already used in conventional ethanol sensors. But because the new structure arranges them in a microscopic structure, sensitivity is improved.
The resistance of zinc oxide to electricity changes when it's exposed to ethanol in a process called adsorption. The ethanol molecules then stick more easily to the nano-sized structure.
A sensor for the system is made by wiring up two patches of flowers in a circuit. One patch would be exposed to the sample, while the other remains sealed, then the resistance between the two is compared.
Other uses for the nanoflowers could include monitoring combustion gases from factories and vehicles.
The team's findings are due to be published in the Sept. 28 Nanotechnology journal.
Source : http://reports.discoverychannel.ca/
This story was first posted on 7th September 2006.