Encoding High Specificity and Multiplexing in Nanoporous Gas Sensors

Steven Buchsbaum | 21-ERD-024

Project Overview

This project was motivated by a need for compact gas detection that is highly specific in the face of a plurality of compounds. Small-footprint packages that provide on-demand, time-resolved and networked monitoring of gas mixtures are critical to a vast range of industries and applications, from oil and gas, to automotive and aerospace, to personalized medicine and threat monitoring. Current gold standards (mass spectrometry, gas chromatography, optical methods) are too expensive and large to be wearable or deployable. An attractive alternative is microfabricated sensor technology that generates simple electrical signals while maintaining small footprints. Detecting specific gases in a background of other compounds, however, likely requires multiple sensors working in concert to achieve artificial olfaction (i.e., an electronic nose). Decades-long efforts to produce such "e-nose" devices have fallen short of early expectations of differentiating compounds in complex gas mixtures and providing quantitative, simultaneous concentration readings without ambiguity or false alarms.

The goal of this project was to utilize novel nanostructures to develop a versatile gas detection platform designed for unprecedented specificity to multiple target gas compounds. Our multidisciplinary approach successfully combined nanomaterials synthesis with materials theory and machine learning to fabricate an array of unique carbon nanotube electrochemical sensors, wherein each sensor is encoded with a specific ionic-liquid chemistry. Our technology operates in the continuous time domain as a sensor "pixel" array detector, wherein each pixel produces a unique electrical response to the gas environment to decipher gases of interest. We developed multiple new CNT and ionic liquid driven sensing approaches, machine learning based analytical tools to translate collective signaling into gas identification, and methodologies for selecting optimal pixel configurations to maximize performance.

Mission Impact

Given the strong ties to hydrogen fuel, natural gas, and carbon capture technologies, this project has been well aligned with the Energy and Resource Security mission area. The tailored fabrication of CNT nanocomposites and theoretical investigations of ionic liquid materials has supported the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Core Competency. The developed detection platform is also highly applicable to the Bioscience and Bioengineering Core Competency, as it can detect harmful compounds with mutual overlap in the Chemical and Biological Countermeasures mission area.

Publications, Presentations, and Patents

Giannetto, Michael J., Eric P. Johnson, Adam Watson, Edgar Dimitrov, Andrew Kurth, Wenbo Shi, Francesco Fornasiero, Eric R. Meshot, and Desiree L. Plata. 2023. "Modifying the Molecular Structure of Carbon Nanotubes through Gas-Phase Reactants." ACS Nanoscience Au 3 (2): 182-191. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnanoscienceau.2c00052.

Weitzner, Stephen E., Tuan Anh Pham, and Eric R. Meshot. 2022. "Theory-augmented informatics of ionic liquid electrolytes for co-design with nanoporous electrode materials." Nanoscale 14 (13): 4922-4928. https://doi.org/10.1039/D1NR07515B.

Boya Zhang, Amanda Muyskens, Alex Abelson, Stephen Weitzner, Sei Jin Park, Fikret Aydin, Peisheng He, Liwei Lin, Eric Meshot, Steven Buchsbaum "Utilizing Gaussian Processes for the Identification of Gas Mixtures from Carbon Nanotube Sensor Arrays Decorated with Ionic Liquids" (Presentation, Conference on Data Analysis. Santa Fe, NM, 2023).

Peisheng He, Alex Abelson, Jenny Zhou, Liwei Lin, Eric Meshot, Steven Buchsbaum,"Ionic-liquid Gated Electrochemical Carbon Nanotube Transistor with High On-Off Ratio for Gas Sensing" (Presentation, Materials Research Society Spring Meeting, San Francisco, CA, 2023).

Fikret Aydin, Stephen Weitzner, Amanda Muyskens, Alexander Abelson, Steven Buchsbaum, Tuan Anh Pham, Eric Meshot, "Mechanisms of Gas Intercalation, Transport, and Selectivity in Nanoconfined Ionic Liquids Revealed by Molecular Dynamics Simulations" (Presentation, Materials Research Society Spring Meeting, San Francisco, CA) April 2023).

Alex Abelson, Boya Zhang, Amanda Muyskens, Sei Jin Park, Stephen E. Weitzner, Fikret Aydin, Peisheng He, Liwei Lin, Steven F. Buchsbaum, Eric R. Meshot, "A Chemically Programmable Nano-electronic Nose For Multi-threat Detection" (Presentation, Defense Threat Reduction Agency Chemical and Biological Defense, Science & Technology, San Francisco, CA, 2022).

Abelson, Alex, Steven F. Buchsbaum, Boya Zhang, Amanda Muyskens, Sei Jin Park, Stephen E. Weitzner, Fikret Aydin, Peisheng He, Liwei Lin, Eric R. Meshot "Encoding Specificity in Carbon Nanotube-Based Gas Sensors using Ionic Liquids" (Presentation, Molecular Foundry Users Meeting, Berkeley, CA, 2022).

Steven Buchsbaum, "Encoding high specificity and multi-plexing in gas sensors" (Presentation, Air Force Technical Working Group, Shreveport, LA, 2023).

Eric R. Meshot, "High-yield growth of aligned carbon nanotubes for applied energy science" (Presentation, IEEE San Francisco Bay Area Nanotechnology Council Seminar, Santa Clara, CA, July 20, 2021).