A Photoluminescent Sensor for Rapid Detection and Identification of Solvent Vapors

Rapid detection and identification of gases and other volatile compounds is needed in diverse areas that include environmental monitoring medical diagnosis quality control and defense applications. Current methods that rely on chromatographic analyses are expensive time consuming and require skilled operators. As a result new methods that enable the simple direct identification of these volatile species are needed. Researchers at Rice University have developed a new material that can be used in the identification of unknown solvent vapors. This material’s spectroscopic properties undergo reproducible changes upon exposure to solvent vapors. Furthermore different chemical vapors produce unique combinations of these photophysical responses thereby generating a characteristic “fingerprint” that can be used to identify a specific a specific solvent. The resulting fingerprint not only allows for the identification of known solvent analytes based on their chemical nature (e.g. polar non-polar protic aprotic) but also enables the classification of a completely unknown vapor based solely on its photophysical response to this novel material. Such identification and classification does not require complex computational analyses.Market Potential / Applications: This invention finds potential application in the detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) e.g. in environmental monitoring Development and Licensing Status: This invention is available for licensing from Rice University.


1) Unambiguous identification of previously studied solvents 2) Classification of unknown solvents (polar non-polar etc) 3) Simple method based on luminescence 4) Data analysis does not require complex computational methods

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