Mark Zondlo, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, is developing innovative ways to monitor air pollution.
“There are commercialized technologies available that can measure various gases in the atmosphere,” Zondlo explained. “But they tend to be bulky, expensive and are quite difficult to deploy in relevant field environments. They also consume a lot of power, so we want to make systems that are much smaller, but maintain robustness, high accuracy and precision.”
He and his fellow researchers have developed power-efficient and ultra-sensitive optical sensors that rely on the latest laser technology to measure the composition of the atmosphere. These data can then be used to provide more accurate climate predictions.
One of these sensors can be mounted atop a car, which allows researchers to measure pollution levels with unprecedented resolution, Zondlo said.
“We are not going to solve [pollution] problems unless we understand and reduce the emissions to the atmosphere,” Zondlo said. “By understanding their spatial and temporal variabilities, we can identify methods to take care of our environment, efficiently utilize energy and improve our food and energy production to minimize the impacts on our climate.”