Posted in | News | Chemical Sensor

NASA's Ames Research Center Wins Invention Award for Chemical Detection Sensor

NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., has won the 2012 NASA Government Invention of the Year for a tiny sensor that can detect chemicals in the air.

A multiple-channel silicon-based sensing chip, which consists of 64 nanosensors and is less than one square centimeter. (Image credit: NASA Ames/Dominic Hart)

“High Sensitive, Low Power and Compact Nano Sensors for Trace Chemical Detection” was invented by Jing Li and Meyya Meyyappan of NASA Ames, and Yijang Lu of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The invention includes methods and systems for estimating one or more unknown parts of a gas using carbon nanotubes. The electronic sensors developed from these carbon nanotubes are inexpensive, light-weight and consume very little power. A typical sensor device based on this concept includes a set of comb-shaped metal microelectrodes fabricated by photolithography on an electrically insulating substrate.

The sensors have been deployed by NASA to detect trace gases in the crew cabin on the International Space Station. Other federal agencies are using sensors based on this technology to detect trace gases in various environments. Specific applications for which the innovative sensors have been tested and used include trace chemical detection in planetary exploration, air monitoring, leak detection and hazardous agent detection using cell phones. Potential future applications may include environmental monitoring, industrial process monitoring and control and biomedical diagnosis.

“We’re very pleased to have Ames inventiveness recognized with this award for the third consecutive year,” said S. Pete Worden, NASA Ames center director. “With this invention, our people have basically created the insides of a tricorder, and based on the uses we’ve already demonstrated, I can’t wait to see the fantastic applications that NASA and industry are going to devise for it.”

Each NASA field center submits nominations for the awards, which are evaluated by NASA's Inventions and Contributions Board. The board determines which nominations qualify for each category, ranks the nominees, and makes recommendations to the NASA Office of the General Counsel for review and approval.

This year Ames also won a Commercial Invention of the Year runner- up recognition for its Rehydration Beverage, a patented water-electrolyte beverage that results in significantly greater body hydration levels than similar beverages available on the market. Invented by Ames’ John Greenleaf, it has been used by astronauts before, during and after spaceflight, including missions to the International Space Station, and by athletes who require rapid rehydration after strenuous exercise.

Ames previously earned the NASA Government Invention of the Year award in the following years:

  • 2007, for low-density, lightweight heat shield materials
  • 2008, for a high-speed 3-D laser scanner with real time processing
  • 2010, for software that creates simulations for managing air traffic scenarios
  • 2011, for a low-cost, lightweight, two-piece, thermal protection system for use on space vehicles during atmospheric re-entry at hypersonic speed

Ames also won NASA Commercial Invention of the Year in 2010 for the Powder Handling Device for Analytical Instruments.



Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). (2019, February 24). NASA's Ames Research Center Wins Invention Award for Chemical Detection Sensor. AZoSensors. Retrieved on February 27, 2024 from

  • MLA

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). "NASA's Ames Research Center Wins Invention Award for Chemical Detection Sensor". AZoSensors. 27 February 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). "NASA's Ames Research Center Wins Invention Award for Chemical Detection Sensor". AZoSensors. (accessed February 27, 2024).

  • Harvard

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). 2019. NASA's Ames Research Center Wins Invention Award for Chemical Detection Sensor. AZoSensors, viewed 27 February 2024,

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type
Azthena logo powered by Azthena AI

Your AI Assistant finding answers from trusted AZoM content

Azthena logo with the word Azthena

Your AI Powered Scientific Assistant

Hi, I'm Azthena, you can trust me to find commercial scientific answers from

A few things you need to know before we start. Please read and accept to continue.

  • Use of “Azthena” is subject to the terms and conditions of use as set out by OpenAI.
  • Content provided on any AZoNetwork sites are subject to the site Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • Large Language Models can make mistakes. Consider checking important information.

Great. Ask your question.

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.