London: Japanese scientists have designed an inexpensive new material capable of quick and accurate detection of specific gases in the air under a wide variety of circumstances.
Moreover, in addition to being reusable, the compound gives off variable degrees of visible light in correspondence with different gas concentrations, providing for development of easy to use monitoring devices.
The “compound” in question is a flexible crystalline material (porous coordination polymer, or PCP) that transforms according to changes in the environment.
When infused with a fluorescent reporter molecule (distyrylbenzene, or DSB), the composite becomes sensitive specifically to carbon dioxide gas, glowing with varying intensity based on changing concentrations of the gas, the report said.
In its natural state, DSB is a long, flat molecule, which emits a blue light. When adsorbed by the PCP framework, DSB molecules twist, causing the entire PCP structure to also become skewed. In this condition, the glow of DSB diminishes significantly.
“On this occasion we observed that the presence of CO2 causes the DSB molecules to revert to their flat, brightly fluorescent form, while also returning the PCP grid to its usual state,” said Professor and deputy director Susumu Kitagawa of the university’s Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS).
“And importantly, these steps can be reversed without causing any significant changes to the composite, making possible the development of a wide variety of specific, inexpensive, reusable gas detectors,” he added.
The study was recently published in the journal Nature Materials.