Monitoring of Environment’s VOCs Using a High Sensitivity
Suspended Graphene Sensor


Portable gas sensors for the detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are utilised to monitor the health and safety of workers and industrial processes. VOCs are emitted from solids or liquids with high vapour pressure and are often combustible and toxic, so on site real-time monitoring is vital. Currently photoionisation detectors (PIDs) are used for VOC monitoring, these devices work by ionising the analyte using high energy photons and detecting the resultant current. PID devices lack specificity unless paired with a pretreatment tube and require a 3V power supply which limits their portability. As such there is a need for more specific, portable and less expensive method for detecting VOCs.

The technology

This technology utilises suspended graphene membranes to provide real-time, ultrasensitive VOC detection. The use of low resistance graphene means the resultant device is low power, small (9mm2) and functional on-chip. Further chemical functionalisation of the graphene membranes could allow the device to function as a one of specific gas sensor. CMOS compatibility means production of the devices can be scaled up on a semiconductor fabrication line. This technology would compete with PIDs on acquisition time, sensitivity, specificity and expertise needed to operate, but would be cheaper and more portable.

a) IC Package with chip wire bonded inside; b) wire bonded chip (3 mm x 3 mm)

Key benefits

  • Larger theoretical range of detection than PID sensors
  • Small device functional on chip
  • CMOS compatible production
  • Low voltage power supply
  • Immediate response and high sensitivity


  • Monitoring of emissions during production and processing of hydrocarbons
  • Detection of VOCs during fuel filling
  • Detection of VOCs during manufacturing processes such as painting or coating
  • Environmental monitoring of air pollution and air quality
  • Construction of personal sensor badges
  • With appropriate functionalisation of the graphene, detection capabilities could be extended to biomarkers or pathogens


Photoionization Detector compared with SuspSense :

Intellectual Property

Patent pending. UK Patent Application No. GB1809160.3


UMIP Contact

Natalie Mera-Pirttijarvi
Commercialisation Executiv

T: +44 (0)161 306 8814