Integrated optical gas sensors for VOCs


The joint project “Integrated-optical detection of volatile organic compounds using functional polymer coatings (COLODOR)” coordinated by the Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH AIT addresses the need for compact measuring systems for so-called “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs). This is to be achieved by researching a novel optical multi-parameter gas sensor concept using polymers doped with indicator dyes.

Quantitative detection of such compounds is of enormous importance in a broad range of applications. VOCs have key role to play in the food industry in particular. Detection of VOCs during food preparation in combination with the appropriate optimization of the boiling and cooking processes can help avoid the formation of toxic organic products, thereby generally reducing the fat content in food. For this purpose, the VOC measurement systems being developed by the project are to be integrated in food preparation equipment for end consumers.

In addition to its high level of integration, the proposed COLODOR concept allows operation at room temperature with low power consumption, thereby ensuring compatibility with cost-effective mass production technologies. COLODOR taps into the potential offered by VOC measurement by exploring dye-doped polymers for optical multi-parameter gas sensors. For this purpose, the aim is to investigate novel sensor materials and their local deposition on sensor chips, create compact optical gas sensor chips and demonstrate the function of the new optical VOC measurement principle. Since three industrial companies are involved – specializing in photonic components, local functionalization and kitchen appliances – the entire value-added chain is covered, so it will be possible to fully exploit the findings at a later stage.

The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF under the funding initiative M-ERA.NET 2015, funding reference 13N14242.