Sensing Trouble


You are here

A tiny sensor that uses organic molecules to detect problems – from asthma to hidden explosives – has been developed at the Weizmann Institute by Prof. Ron Naaman of the Chemical Physics Department, along with Prof. David Cahen of the Materials and Interfaces Department and Prof. Abraham Shanzer of the Organic Chemistry Department. 

Known as MOCSER (MOle-cular Controlled SEmiconductor Resistor), the sensor can detect minuscule amounts of substances, as little as just a few hundred molecules. These tiny quantities, however, can yield mountains of information. Levels of nitrous oxide (NO) molecules in exhaled breath, for instance, can reveal whether a person is having an asthma attack. The NO sensor has recently been developed as an easy-to-use, accurate asthma detector that can help diagnose the disease or predict attacks.

The sensor is so small that 28 can fit onto a standard electronic chip. MOCSER sensors can be produced inexpensively and might be designed to detect all sorts of substances, including harmful pollutants that are hard to monitor, banned materials and biological molecules.  
Prof. Ron Naaman’s research is supported by the Nancy and Stephen Grand Research Center for Sensors and Security; the Fritz Haber Center for Physical Chemistry; the Ilse Katz Institute for Material Sciences and Magnetic Resonance Research; the Wolfson Advanced Research Center for Bio Micro Technology; and the Philip M. Klutznick Fund for Research. Prof. Naaman is the incumbent of the Aryeh and Mintze Katzman Professorial Chair.