$12,497: The Bender Scientific Fund of The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region
The development of WS2-based electrochemical sensors for VOCs detection
Principal Investigator: Yijing Stehle, assistant professor of mechanical engineering
Due to the emissions from local manufacturing, electric power generation, and hazardous waste treatment, contamination is one of the long-existing problems impacting many of the waterways of Upstate New York. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), one of the major categories of water contaminants, can migrate into the drinking-water supply if released into groundwater. Long-term exposure VOCs can have a negative impact on the respiratory system and cause short and long-term health problems. The most common VOCs found in waterways include dichloromethane, ethylene glycol, and benzene. Due to the volatility of most of these solvents, it is necessary to develop sensors that can detect them both in and out of contaminated water.
Tungsten disulfide (WS2) based field effect transistors were developed to detect methanol, water, and other solvent gas molecules. These sensors demonstrate good sensitivity and selectivity, but are expensive and complex to fabricate, sensitive to the work environment, and not stable under ambient conditions for long-term storage or work.
The fundamental studies supported by The Bender Scientific Fund of The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region will inform the design of WS2-based electrochemical sensors that have the potential to detect VOCs with high sensitivity, selectivity, stability, and low costs. PI Stehle will prepare WS2-based sensors using two strategies. If either strategy of sensor fabrication is proven successful and effective, these sensors will then be used in subsequent projects with Union College undergraduates to detect levels of dichloromethane, one of the most common VOCs found in local water sources, and will position PI Stehle to apply for major research grants building upon this work.