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At low temperatures

A compact sensor, with an area of just a few square millimeters, has proven capable of detecting residual concentrations of hydrogen gas of 10 to 1,000 parts per million. This makes it useful in diagnosing failures in high-tension transformers as well as detecting leaks in clean rooms, which are used for product manufacturing, and in refrigerated chambers. It is in the prototype phase and has already attracted companies interested in producing it. The development was carried out under the auspices of the National Institute of Science and Technology for Micro and Nanoelectronic Systems (INCT-Namitec). “The degree of integration of its components, its compact size and operation at lower temperatures than those found in commercial sensors are the principal innovations,” says Professor Sebastião Gomes dos Santos Filho, from USP, one of the project coordinators. The device operates on a base heated to 100°C. Commercially available sensors operate at temperatures of about 400°C and thus require more energy.