Real time, Field Measurement of Specific Contaminants in Ambient Air and Headspace Gas

Real time field techniques to monitor specific VOC’s or other molecular contaminants in ambient air and/or headspace gas have always been challenging.

Instruments such as Photo-Ionisation Detectors (PID’s) provide sensitive measurement with limited selectivity, while sophisticated instruments such as Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) and Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) require a relatively high level of infrastructure and service to operate remotely 24/7.

Mote’s research focuses on cost effective techniques providing sensitive and selective measurement 24/7, without the infrastructural and service requirements of more sophisticated instruments.

Our work largely focuses on the application of High-Field, Asymmetric Waveform, Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS) being an ion mobility technique instrument that separates gas-phase chemicals, allowing a sensitive, quantitative measurement of a target chemical. The technique is applicable to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and potential target species such as Methyl Bromide, measuring at part per billion levels.

The compact size, cost effectiveness and low power requirements make this technique attractive for Internet of Things (IOT) applications, with the technology field re-programmable to detect new target chemical species.

Laboratory and field testing is underway using Owlstone technology ( to establish the performance, cost-effectiveness, service requirements and reliability of FAIMS devices against field GC units and laboratory based techniques for selected client applications.