Carbon Nanotube-Based Sensor Detects Nitrosamines in Air

By Bevin P. Engelward

Director, MIT Superfund Research Program

A collaboration between environmental science and engineering researchers and biomedical researchers from the MIT SRP has led to the development of a carbon nanotube (CNT) based sensor that enables detection of nitrosamines in air. The sensor was developed by Dr. Maggie He of Prof. Timothy Swager’s laboratory in collaboration with Prof. John Essigmann and Dr. Robert Croy. The approach utilizes functionalized CNTs that can bind nitrosamines spanning across gold electrodes. Specific binding of nitrosamines to the CNTs produces a change in current proportional to the level of chemical in the air. These inexpensive sensors present opportunities for improved remediation efforts at the Olin Chemical Superfund site in Wilmington MA, and they were featured in an article by Chemical & Engineering News, as an NIEHS Paper of the Month, and in an NIEHS SRP Research Brief article and podcast.