Researcher Paul Maierhofer at the Institute of Electrical Measurement and Sensor Systems at Graz University of Technology has developed what is believed to be the world’s smallest particle sensor, in collaboration with AMS AG and Silicon Austria Lab. The work done overcomes a number of hurdles faced when designing miniaturized particle sensors. Mainly, as particle sensors become smaller, the volume of air that they test at any given moment also becomes smaller. Additionally, the particles in the air are not always uniformly distributed, creating uncertainty in the distribution of a particle. As part of his dissertation, techniques were used to make a miniaturized sensor that can accurately measure fine dust content in the air.
Measuring just 12 x 9 x 3 millimeters in size, the sensor can be easily integrated into phones and wearables such as smartwatches and wristbands. The device can also alert users of elevated contaminants in the air. In addition, a wide range of other applications exist that can benefit from the sensor including home and outdoor air quality monitoring. Using many of these devices in several locations can even create a mesh network of sensors that can accurately track a large area for air quality. According to one study done in Europe, over 400,000 people die prematurely every year due to contaminant pollution. Overall, the small sensor can provide an immense benefit to our well-being.