Plasmonic sensors for the sensitive and selective detection of volatile organic compounds
The quantitative detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is an essential but challenging task with a broad range of applications: diagnosing disease via breath analysis, monitoring indoor air quality, checking food freshness, detecting explosives, etc. Because of the shortcomings of current gas sensors, the demand for a new generation of selective and sensitive VOC sensors is pressing. This PhD project targets a new type of spectroscopic sensors that tackle this challenge through the combination of (1) nanoscale engineering of light-matter interactions, (2) the growth of thin porous films with a high VOC adsorption affinity, and (3) a biomimetic method to leverage the combined data from an array of partially selective sensors. These concepts will be brought together for the first time through the close collaboration of researchers at two universities and will be demonstrated in the detection of three harmful VOCs in simulated indoor air.