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Ultrafine particle sensors for drastic improvement of air quality

Tuesday, 8 February 2022
New methods for measuring the size and concentration of ultrafine particles using charged plasmas can be used to make future sensors for health benefits.

Plasmas are used to make microchips, but are also used in sensors to check for ultrafine particles that could pose a serious health risk. Although such sensors are common in industry, several issues such as cost, maintenance, and size must be addressed before they are available for everyday use. For his PhD research, Tim Staps explored new methods to measure the size and concentration of particles in plasmas that could be used to make cheaper, smaller, and more sustainable particle sensors in the future. He defended his thesis at the department of Applied Physics at the TU Eindhoven on February 8th.

Plasmas, which consist of charged particles and are the 4th state of matter, are used in high-tech industrial systems such as in lithography machines to make microchips or in ultrafine particle (UFP) sensors to measure the concentration of tiny particles (smaller than 0.1 micrometers) that could be damaging to human health.

“Due to their small size, UFPs can deposit deep in the lungs and then enter the blood stream, causing irreversible tissue damage and disease,” says Tim Staps, PhD researcher in the Complex Ionized Media group at the department of Applied Physics.