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Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Nanocrystalline Oxide Semi-Conducive Gas Sensors (NOS)


In recent years, focus has increased in developing advanced ways to ensure national security and to ensure consistency and quality in consumer products. Although there have been notable advancements in the field, current sensors lack sensitivity, have high labor costs, and are limited in their applications. UNF Nanocrystalline Oxide Semi-Conducive Gas Sensor solutions represent a breakthrough technology in this field.

UNF sensors are superior to existing technologies in sensitivity and selectivity. In addition, UNF NOS sensors are unique because they can be used remotely, can be miniaturized or made compact, and can autonomously analyze data.


UNF sensor applications are varied and numerous:


  • USDA, FDA, and private sector monitoring of "freshness" of agricultural and food products.
  • Product grading, product adulteration, and freshness monitoring as well as detection of consistency and quality.


  • Detection of chemical and bio-warfare agents.
  • Screening for explosive materials at airports, post offices, and water ports.
  • Detection of combat explosive material vapors, toxic chemicals and gases, including PETN, RDS, TNT, Hexolite, Compound A5, Compound B, gunpowder and improvised explosive devices (IEDS).
  • Space and environmental applications such as the monitoring of ozone levels in the stratosphere, background gases in the mesosphere, and VOC's (volatile organic compounds).
  • EPA monitoring and detection of greenhouse gases, pollution and sewer gases, and leakage from sewer pipelines.
  • Private industry and Energy Company use to detect leaks in natural gas and petroleum pipelines.


  • Detection and monitoring of quality and safety for employees and for consumers.
  • Monitoring of transportation of products and detection of leakages from gases or vapors within containers.
  • Monitoring and detection of industrial toxic chemicals, volatile organic compounds, and gases and vapors.


Emergency responder use for patient drug monitoring and human body recovery.

Invention Details

This sensor technology works through the effects of gases and vapors modifying nanocrystalline oxide semiconductor (NOS) materials. UNF NOS sensors have been configured to detect many mixtures including industrial toxic chemicals, chemical warfare agents, explosive materials, gases/vapors, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). See the detailed list of analytes. These sensors have increased sensitivity and can detect chemicals in the parts per million ranges, with some chemicals in the parts per billion ranges. They do not require a heater under many conditions to operate, unlike competing technologies. UNF gas sensors can also continuously operate on battery power due to their low power requirements. This capability allows the sensors to work remotely and at normal room temperature. UNF NOS sensors do not have to be replaced once triggered and can simply be reset and reused. UNF sensors also have a faster response time and can detect gas in near real-time. The sensors can also be fabricated in mass production at a reasonable cost.

A list of identified analytes is available on request.

US Patents 9,606,078 and 10,823,690. Invented by Dr. Nirmalkumar Patel, Department of Physics.

More Information: John Kantner, Associate VP for Research,, (904) 620-2455.


Nanocrystalline oxide thin film layer for superior sensitivity

Parts per billion capability

Ooperates at room temperature for reduced power consumption and size

Multi-use; reset and reuse

Faster response time for multiple analytes