A non-disruptive sheet sensor for monitoring the quality of liquids that flow through the pipes of chemical factories, food and beverage manufacturers, and other industrial facilities has been developed by a team of scientists from Osaka University, Chuo University, Eindhoven University of Technology and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

To develop the onsite, non-destructive quality control method for such facilities, where sampling, chemical labels or an external light source are traditionally employed to periodically check the quality of water, the scientists have developed a flexible sheet that includes an embedded carbon nanotube film that functions as a photodetector layer.

Source: Osaka UniversitySource: Osaka University

When the scientists exposed the sheet to light radiation, the carbon nanotubes reportedly created an electric voltage that was detectable by attached electrodes.

"Our stretchable sheet device is equipped with a high-sensitivity, broadband optical sensor, which enables it to be attached to a wide variety of pipe shapes," the authors explained.

Meanwhile, water temperature changes can also be passively monitored according to blackbody radiation, which is otherwise known as the spectrum of light emitted by any heated object. Additionally, to detect impurities or inspect beverages, researchers determined that an external terahertz or infrared light source could be employed, thereby allowing spectroscopy techniques to be applied without interruption to flowing liquids.

"The optical sensor sheet can easily visualize the concentration, temperature, viscosity, and location of cracks and liquids in pipes, contributing to the realization of future environmental measurement systems," explained the authors.

Going forward, the scientists envision that the research will help to modernize industrial quality control approaches, wherein contaminant concentrations can be monitored uninterrupted versus during only scheduled maintenance.

The research, Stretchable broadband photo-sensor sheets for nonsampling, source-free, and label-free chemical monitoring by simple deformable wrapping, is published in the journal Science Advances.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com