The N5 Medic: An Ultra-small, Low-cost Gas Toxin Personal Monitor To Assist Individuals With Poor Respiratory Health Using Novel Chip-scale Chemical Sensor Technology

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has long recognized the public health hazards of NO2 and SO2. Current scientific evidence links short-term exposures to these toxics with an array of adverse respiratory effects including airway inflammation in healthy people, increased symptoms and more difficulty controlling asthma for asthmatics, and an increase in respiratory illnesses for young and elderly.

Access to low-cost, personal air quality monitors will allow individuals to develop awareness, take preventive measures to reduce air pollutants exposures, provide physicians with exposure records, and provide quantitative data for air toxin research.

N5 Sensors will demonstrate a low-cost, personal NO2 and SO2 monitor using our innovative chip-scale chemical sensor technology. This disruptive sensor technology allows us to fabricate arrays of microsensors on a single chip, each specifically designed for a target analyte utilizing our patent-pending innovation in multicomponent nanocluster design. Our technology results in detectors that are low-cost, low-power, ultra-small - ideal for interfacing with a mobile device such as a smart phone or a tablet, for real-time rapid and accurate detection of indoor and outdoor air quality. Such a device could provide real-time environmental information to patients suffering from respiratory illnesses, enable them to reduce their exposures to environmental hazards that could trigger various respiratory ailments.

N5 Sensors was incorporated in the state of Maryland with current operation based in Rockville. In the past two years our company has added five full time employees, and will continue to bring more jobs to the county both directly and indirectly by fostering collaboration with state and county agencies and increasing manufacturing operations. Each microsensor is designed to detect a specific target gas, using our patent-pending innovation in photo-enabled sensing - which combines the selective adsorption properties of multicomponent photocatalytic nanoclusters together with the sensitive transduction capability of microscale photoconductors of semiconducting gallium nitride (GaN). , the sensitivity of the microsensors are tailored by the component of surface functionalization, which typically is either a metal-oxide, metal-oxide with metal, or a metal-oxide/metal-oxide combination. These sensors work at room-temperature using only a low-power, low-cost commercial UV light-emitting diode (LED). The highly-selective metal-oxide coating gives rise to the exceptional selectivity of these sensors. Adsorption of target molecule on these nanoclusters results in significant modulation of the photocurrent flowing through these microresistors, resulting in rapid real-time electronic detection. Our nanoengineered surface modification is unique compared to traditional commercially-available metal-oxide sensors, as those need to be heated.

The key highlights of our detector design are:

Microscale gas sensor technology allows detection of host of gases potentially using few sensor chips resulting in small multigas detectors capable of monitoring simultaneously 13 different toxic and explosive gases.

N5’s chemical sensor technology uses patent-pending nanophotocatalysts surface functionalization, which results in room-temperature light-enabled sensing, which ultimately leads to low-power detectors with intrinsically safe operation.

As the sensor technology utilizes highly-scalable microfabrication methods, the cost is significantly lower than traditional sensors.

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  • ABOUT THE ENTRANT

  • Name:
    Nichole Sullivan
  • Type of entry:
    team
    Team members:
    Abhishek Motayed
    Ratan Debnath
    Baomei Wen
    Nichole Sullivan
    Audie Castillo
    Ting Xie
  • Profession:
    Scientist
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
    2
  • Nichole is inspired by:
    N5 Sensors slogan is smart sensors for a safer world. We are inspired by providing the means for military and citizens to monitor their air pollutant and toxin exposures and the benefits gained from this information. As technology becomes a more integral to everyday living N5 Sensors aspires to be a disruptive technology in the future Smart Cities and Connected Communities.
  • Patent status:
    pending