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Somenath Mitra, professor of chemistry, is collaborating with Research Professor Zafar Iqbal to build an integrated sensing system for airborne organics. With funding from the National Center for Environmental Research, the team will utilize some of the remarkable nanoscale properties of single wall carbon nanotubes(SWCNTs), building the system by controlled assembly of carbon nanotubes on MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) structures. Read a press release about Mitra's work.

The team has successfully produced self-assembled, free-standing membranes of pure SWCNTs in which the SWCNTs in the micro-channels function as nanoscale concentrators of pollutant gases. Chemical functionalization of SWCNTs with acid groups and amines has also been successfully achieved. Using similar chemical reactions the team plans to functionalize SWCNTs with enzymes to create biological sensors in which detection will be achieved by conventional and atomic force microscope electrochemical techniques.

The photo left is a scanning electron microscope image of about 10 nm diameter SWCNT bundles in a SWCNT membrane fabricated by the research group.