Laser Writing Customizable Microscale Gas Sensors 

Detecting gases is critical for pollution monitoring, public safety, and personal health care. The sensors must be small, lightweight, inexpensive, and simple in various environments and substrates, such as clothing or piping. A research team has created the first highly customizable microscale gas sensing devices by combining laser writing and responsive sensor technologies.

The challenge is to design devices with the desired properties while also providing the infrastructure required for simultaneous precise and accurate sensing of multiple target gases.

Laser writing techniques enable design freedom in a variety of fields. Understanding how to synthesize, pattern directly, and integrate new materials (nanomaterials and composites) into complex systems is essential. It will enable the development of increasingly sophisticated and helpful sensing technologies.

The research team created the laser-induced thermal voxel process, which allows metal oxides to be created and integrated directly into sensor platforms. Metal oxides react with other compounds, activating the sensing mechanism. The researchers used laser writing to dissolve metal salts in water before focusing the laser on the solution. The solution decomposes at high temperatures, leaving metal oxide nanoparticles to get sintered onto the sensor platform. The process streamlines previous methods, which required a pre-defined mask of the planned pattern.

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