What is Frozen smoke?

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Researchers have developed a sensor made from "frozen smoke" that uses artificial intelligence techniques to detect formaldehyde in real time at concentrations as low as eight parts per billion, far beyond the sensitivity of most indoor air quality sensors.

About Frozen smoke

  • The frozen smoke, technically known as aerogel, is an extraordinary material.
  • It was originally developed in the 1930s.
  • The name aerogel comes from the combination of the Greek word “aero”, meaning air, and “gel”, since aerogels are derived from gels.
  • It is hailed as a miracle material.
  • Properties
    • Aerogel can claim a low density, high thermal resistivity and a highly porous structure. 
    • The texture of aerogel is similar to a fine, dry sponge, but feels much lighter
    • In fact, aerogel holds the record as the lightest solid in the world.
    • When pressed softly, aerogel will return to its original form, but when pressed harder, a dimple forms. Put aerogel under too much pressure, however, and it will shatter like glass into many tiny pieces.
    • They are composed mostly of air and can be used to remove contaminants. 

What is Formaldehyde?

  • It is a common Volatile organic compound (VOC) and is emitted by household items including pressed wood products (such as MDF), wallpapers and paints, and some synthetic fabrics.
  • For the most part, the levels of formaldehyde emitted by these items are low, but levels can build up over time.
  • Formaldehyde can lead to serious health problems with prolonged exposure even at low concentrations,

Q1) What are Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

These are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors.

Source: Sensors made from 'frozen smoke' can detect toxic formaldehyde in homes and offices