News & Blog


The RADICAL team is collaborating with the Horizon Results Booster service to explore future markets and opportunities for the RADICAL sensor. As part of this exercise, we’ve identified some of the key demands and current challenges in the air sensor market, and how the benefits of the RADICAL gas sensor platform can be applied across a range of environments and sectors.

There is a growing demand for better air quality monitoring, both indoors and outdoors. This is driven in part by stricter regulations on air pollution and gas emissions, as well as increased targets on what good air quality looks like. For this, low-cost mobile gas sensors are required, but currently low-cost sensors only exist for the relatively ‘easy-to-measure’ air pollutants such as CO2 and Particulate Matter (PM).

These species alone do not tell the whole picture of air quality, but many of the most damaging air pollutants, such as NO2, ozone, formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia and methane, can only be measured with expensive and bulky laboratory equipment. This limits both the type and number of locations that can be monitored, and thus the quality of data that is fed into air quality and pollution exposure models. The levels of the most harmful air pollutants are simply unknown in everyday settings such as homes, workplaces, hospitals, factories and schools.

Driven by financial and logistical constraints, outdoor air quality monitoring is currently limited to a handful of ‘reference-grade’ instruments across larger cities, with a model that coarsely extrapolates air quality at all points in-between. Indoor air quality monitoring is not routine, even in settings such as hospitals, where health hazards are paramount. Instead, a research campaign of fixed duration might be set up to get a snapshot of a particular location at a particular time.

Current workarounds include low-cost sensors that are augmented by software to mimic more expensive reference-grade equipment, but this comes at the cost of an accurate, quantifiable measurement in the first place.

Novel Gas Sensor Platform from the RADICAL Project

A novel type of electronic gas sensor (e-nose) has been developed which can selectively detect ambient gases at ultralow concentrations down to 1 ppb. This unprecedented sensitivity is achieved by an array of junctionless nanowire transistors, tuned to selectively detect gases through a surface layer of customised organic molecules. This sensor has successfully detected NO2 gas, and it is being optimised to detect other key atmospheric gases such as ozone, ammonia, methane, and the ‘holy grail of atmospheric species’, the OH radical.

This platform sensing technology represents a new type of gas sensor that is uniquely:

a) sensitive to short-lived and low-concentration gases,

b) selective to specific gases due to a customisable array of functionalised transistors, and 

c) quantitative about the amount of gas detected.

This mobile, low-cost sensor will also be able to electrically detect oxidising species such as OH radicals, which has not been previously possible.

Key application areas include:

– hospitals and healthcare air quality monitoring

– personal health and air pollution exposure

– manufacturing and industrial hygiene

– agricultural emissions

– remote and dangerous environments

– atmospheric and environmental research

Get in touch:

As we prepare for the next stage in the RADICAL project lifecycle, we are actively seeking future collaborators from research groups and air sensing companies. If our sensing platform could be relevant in your work, please get in touch to find out more:

Follow our progress with RADICAL