Agricultural and industrial ammonia (NH₃) monitoring with organic sensor circuits

Research Team

Howard E. Katz
Chair and Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, School of Engineering

Patrick Breysse
Formerly Professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health

Public health researchers focusing on environmental and occupational causes of diseases have faced a lack of simple, inexpensive and highly efficient technologies that can assess exposure to residential and workplace risks, including agricultural and industrial ammonia (NH₃). This lack of technology has been widely recognized by many groups including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

Researchers Howard Katz and Patrick Breysse undertook a project to develop a sensor to be able to detect low concentrations (1 ppm) of NH₃ for a variety of occupational and environmental applications. Their aim was to develop a sensor that can also potentially be used to detect other types of environmental and occupational hazards that pose risks to human health.


Besar, K., Yang, S., Guo, X., Huang, W., Rule, A., Breysse, P., Kymissis, I., Katz, H. (2014).  "Printable ammonia sensor based on organic field effect transistor." Organic Electronics, 15(11), pp. 3221-3230.

Huang, W., Sinha, J., Yeh, M., Martinez Hardigree J.F., LeCover, R., Besar, K., Rule, A.M., Breysse, P.N., Katz, H.E. (2013). “Diverse Organic Field Effect Transistor Sensor Responses from Two Functionalized Naphthalenetetracarboxylic Diimides and Copper Phthalocyanine Semiconductors Distinguishable over a Wide Analyte Range." Advanced Functional Materials, 23(33), pp. 4094-4104.

Huang, W., Besar, K., LeCover, R., Rule, A., Breysse, P., Katz, H. (2012). "Highly Sensitive NH3 Detection Based on Organic Field-Effect Transistors with Tris(pentafluorophenyl)borane as Receptor." Journal of the American Chemical Society, 134(43), pp. 18149-18149.

I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?
— Robert Redford, Yosemite National Park dedication, 1985