Visual gas sensors based on dye thin films and resonant waveguide gratings
A colorimetric sensor that provides a direct visual indication of chemical contamination was developed. The detection is based on the color change of the reflected light after exposure to a gas or a liquid. The sensor is a combination of a chemically sensitive dye layer and a subwavelength grating structure. To enhance the perception of color change, a reference area sealed under a non-contaminated atmosphere is used and placed next to the sensor. The color change is clearly visible by human eyes. The device is based on photonic resonant effects; the visible color is a direct reflection of some incoming light, therefore no additional supplies are needed. This makes it usable as a standalone disposable sensor. The dye thin film is deposited by Plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) on top of the subwavelength structure. The latter is made by combining a replication process of a Sol-Gel material and a thin film deposition. Lowcost fabrication and compatibility with environments where electricity cannot be used make this device very attractive for applications in hospitals, industries, with explosives and in traffic.