innovation for industry
Micro and nanosystems
The on-site testing of gas mixtures using chromatography could potentially be of use in fields like civil security, industrial site monitoring, and medicine. Leti, a CEA Tech institute, developed a system called Primosens, a miniaturized, low-power version of the lab technique that could be of interest to industrial customers.
Gas chromatography first appeared in the 1950s. Until now, it has been relegated to the lab. Elements of the gas sample are placed inside an injector and transported by a carrier gas to chromatography columns measuring several meters long, where the gases are separated according to their physical and chemical characteristics, and then identified using techniques like mass spectrometry.
In this case, the researchers successfully integrated the different elements onto silicon chips measuring just a few square centimeters. They did away with the need for a carrier gas and the associated gas tanks. In addition, a drastic reduction in the size of the system to heat resulted in energy consumption 100 times lower than a conventional system—low enough to be powered by a battery. All without compromising performance. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve sensitivity of 1 part per billion.
Primosens is a plug-and-play system that is easy to use, portable, and effective. Talks are already underway with industrial partners interested in manufacturing and selling the system.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.