Professors design sensor to detect toxic gases


Kent State professors Elda and Torsten Hegmann pose with a sensor they designed to detect toxic gases.

Rachel Karas

Professors from the Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute (AMLCI) earned a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for research on sensors that will detect toxic gases and vapors.

Torsten Hegmann, the associate director of the AMLCI and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Elda Hegmann, an assistant professor in the AMLCI and department of biological sciences, received the grant, which covers three years of research.

“This research started almost back at the beginning of my academic career when I began studying nanomaterials and their interactions with liquid crystals,” Hegmann said in a press release.

The project received a $100,000 grant from the TeCK Fund, a program run by Kent State and Cleveland State University that pushes to bring technologies from laboratories to commercial markets.  

With the research the Hegmanns have done so far, alongside Merck Performance Materials, a science technology company from Germany, they have created sensors that can display a warning when in the presence of toxic gases and vapors.

“We are certainly hoping there is a market for these products,” said Stephen Roberts, Kent State’s director of technology commercialization and research finance. “We are hoping for first responders, like firefighters and military personnel.”

Rachel Karas covers graduate education and research. Contact her at [email protected].