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A new nanofiber sensing technology can detect a wide variety of chemicals, with widespread application in a multitude of industries and sectors, including military and security.

The core of the chemical sensor technology is a net of nanofibers approximately one thousand times smaller in size than human hair. Their porous structure allows them to absorb targeted molecules from sampled gas and identify them via changes in their electrical resistance. The technology allows for the rapid detection of target chemicals.

The technology can detect a wide variety of chemicals, including explosives, drugs, VOCs, toxic industrial chemicals, amines, and more, with potential applications for automotive, aerospace, agriculture, chemical manufacturing, military & first responders, worker safety, food & beverage processing, and medical – anywhere chemical sensing is needed.

Gentex Corporation that has acquired the technology as it acquired the startup Vaporsens, is currently working with an autonomous vehicle manufacturer on introducing the first smoke detector designed to detect smoke and vape within the vehicle environment. The system consists of a sensing unit placed within the vehicle’s ductwork where it continuously samples the air quality. Once smoke or vape is detected, the vehicle operator could be notified, the vehicle flagged for cleaning, and the offending passenger assessed a fine.

By combining their smoke and chemical detection technologies with the new nanofiber sensing technology, the company will be able to offer complete, holistic sensing for the automotive industry and other key markets. “In autonomous vehicles, these units will become increasingly important to vehicle operators in order to keep passengers safe and vehicles clean,” according to the company’s announcement.