Scientists have invented threads that change color when dangerous gases appear in the air
Engineers have developed a method for manufacturing gas analyzing filaments that change color when various hazardous gases are detected in the air or under water. They can be woven into clothing, do not get wet and allow you to visually identify even complex mixtures of toxic substances.
According to scientists from Tufts University, the sensitivity of the filaments is not inferior to electronic devices and they can be used without additional equipment or special training..
To create them, the researchers dipped the thread in various dyes based on manganese, methyl red and bromothymol blue. Then they were treated with acetic acid, which caused the fibers to swell and the surface became rough, improving the interaction of indicators with the fibers of the base. After that, they were coated with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), creating a flexible physical protective layer that is permeable to gas but repelling water, preventing the dyes from being washed out..
Because the indicators used work in different ways, the researchers say, gases with different chemical properties can be detected, and the use of simple dyes provides a wide variety of functional chemicals..
The change in the color of the gas analysis filament depends on the concentration of the gas. If you need to clarify the quantitative assessment of the indicator or the interpretation of the color signatures of several «smart» strands and analytes, you can use applications on your smartphone.
During underwater testing, engineers have successfully recorded the presence of dissolved ammonia. According to them, such sensors can be woven into clothing or fabricated from them, using them as an affordable security tool for industrial personnel, military personnel, rescuers and medical workers..
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Scientists have previously discovered that cellulose impregnated with a special polymer mixture serves as a sensor for simultaneous and independent changes in temperature, pressure and humidity.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Rachel Owyeung / Tufts University