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Your Environment. Your Health.


Superfund Research Program

Plasmonic Mercury Sensor and Wearable Gas Detector

Project Leader: Jay James
Grant Number: R43ES032383
Funding Period: Phase I: September 2020 - February 2021


The research team is developing a miniaturized and low-cost mercury sensor and applying it to personal exposure monitoring. This project demonstrates the feasibility of a powerful and sensitive mercury vapor sensor that is less than 0.2 centimeters cubed in volume, draws less than 1 Watt, and costs less than $40 in parts. The research team is integrating the sensor into a personal monitor to be the first personal mercury monitor that is wearable, immediate, and accurate in complex environments. Newly available integrated optical modules are employed to measure the plasmonic signal of an amalgam nanoparticle film. The research team’s proprietary plasmonic mercury sensing technique is uniquely capable of measurements in complex mixtures. The development of such a unique device will benefit all parties concerned with mercury exposure. These include artisanal and small-scale gold mining communities, other mining, dental offices, hospitals, laboratories, schools, and industrial sites. Mercury monitoring costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year across diverse scientific, industrial, and regulatory groups.

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