Gas Detector




Introduction to Gas Sensors: Construction Types and Working

A Typical human nose has 400 types of scent receptors enabling us to smell about 1 trillion different odours. But still many of us do not have the capacity to identify the type or concentration of gas present in our atmosphere. This is where Sensors comes in, there are many types of sensors to measure different parameters and a Gas sensor is one which comes handy in applications where we have to detect the variation in the concentration of toxic gases in order to maintain the system safe and avoid/caution any unexpected threats. There are various gas sensors to detect gases like oxygen, Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen, methane etc. They can also be commonly found in devices that are used to detect the leakage of the harmful gases, monitor the air quality in industries and offices etc.

Gas sensor

In this article, we will learn more about gas sensors, their construction, types, working and how they can be used to measure the required type and concentration of Gas in our atmosphere. There are many types of Gas sensors but the MQ type gas sensors are commonly used and widely popular so will focus more on these types of sensors for this article.

Portable LEL gas detector

Introduction to Gas Sensor

gas sensor is a device which detects the presence or concentration of gases in the atmosphere. Based on the concentration of the gas the sensor produces a corresponding potential difference by changing the resistance of the material inside the sensor, which can be measured as output voltage. Based on this voltage value the type and concentration of the gas can be estimated.

Gas sensor

The type of gas the sensor could detect depends on the sensing material present inside the sensor. Normally these sensors are available as modules with comparators as shown above. These comparators can be set for a particular threshold value of gas concentration. When the concentration of the gas exceeds this threshold the digital pin goes high. The analog pin can be used to measure the concentration of the gas.

Different Types of Gas sensors

Gas sensor are typically classified into various types based on the type of the sensing element it is built with. Below is the classification of the various types of gas sensors based on the sensing element that are generally used in various applications:

Optical gas Sensor.
Electrochemical gas Sensor.
NDIR gas Sensor.

Gas Sensor Construction

Of all the above-listed types, the most commonly used gas sensor is the Metal oxide semiconductor based gas sensor. All Gas sensors will consist of a sensing element which comprises of the following parts.

Gas sensor

Gas sensing layer
Heater Coil
Electrode line
Tubular ceramic

Gas Sensor Working

The ability of a Gas sensor to detect gases depends on the chemiresister to conduct current. The most commonly used chemiresistor is Tin Dioxide (SnO2) which is an n-type semiconductor that has free electrons (also called as donor). Normally the atmosphere will contain more oxygen than combustible gases. The oxygen particles attract the free electrons present in SnO2 which pushes them to the surface of the SnO2. As there are no free electrons available output current will be zero.

How to use a Gas sensor?

When a SnO2 semiconductor layer is heated to a high temperature, oxygen is adsorbed on the surface. When the air is clean, electrons from the conduction band of tin dioxide are attracted to oxygen molecules. This creates an electron depletion layer just beneath the surface of the SnO2 particles, forming a potential barrier. As a result, the SnO2 film becomes highly resistive and prevents electric current flow.

Gas sensor

In the presence of alcohol, however, the surface density of adsorbed oxygen decreases as it reacts with the alcohol, lowering the potential barrier. As a result, electrons are released into the tin dioxide, allowing current to freely flow through the sensor.

Recent Post

Components of a gas detector

To function effectively, gas detectors are equipped with various components that work together to detect, measure, and alert users to the presence of hazardous gases. In this essay, we will explore the key components of a gas detector and their respective functions in detail.

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