By: Alexander Cho
If you have been to high school, you may know firsthand that vaping has become a widespread issue in schools across America. You probably already know that the bathroom is the most popular place to vape. However, the popularity of bathroom vaping makes it especially difficult for school administrators to curb high school vaping since the Invasion of Privacy Act prohibits the use of cameras in bathrooms. Fortunately, a nicotine vapor sensor would allow for an effective crackdown on bathroom vaping while complying with the Invasion of Privacy Act. The goal for my project was to create a sensor that would be able to detect nicotine when it became present in the air. In my project, I used Indium Tin Oxide nanofibers to fabricate an effective nicotine gas sensor. To test my sensors, I used a multimeter to monitor the electrical resistance (how much a material slows the flow of electricity) of the nanofibers in ohms (a unit of measure denoting how resistant a material is). Then, my sensors were exposed to nicotine vapor extracted from a JUUL e-cigarette. My results show that when nicotine bonded to Indium Tin Oxide nanofibers, the flow of electricity was impeded, causing the resistance to rise by a factor of 1.3. This increase indicated that nicotine was present, establishing that Indium Tin Oxide nanofibers are effective in the detection of nicotine vapor. However, I also found that Indium Tin Oxide nanofibers are not yet practical, as there is a 3-4 minute delay between nicotine exposure and resistance increase.
This research was conducted as a part of the Partners in Sciene Research Program. To read more, click here for a full pdf of Alexander's formal research paper about his project!