News — April 17, 2012 at 6:04 am

UCR engineer seeks alternative use for cellphones

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Courtesy of UCR Today

Nosang Myung, professor and chair of UC Riverside’s department of chemical and environmental engineering, is seeking ways to enable mobile devices to detect airborne substances and chemical properties. Myung has teamed up with Innovation Economy Corporation, who will sponsor his lab and help promote Myung’s research endeavors. Although it may be many years until cellphone users can utilize their phone for activities such as checking the chemical properties of their drinking water, development on the project is already underway with an expected completion in two years.

Myung has noted that the science behind the experiment is exceptionally complicated. In an interview with the Press Enterprise, Myung said that his work entailed the creation of sensors which were only a few atoms thick. The sensors would then be retrofitted on cellphones and be able to submit information on a variety of air conditions; the potential list of uses include the ability to analyze the chemicals, whether they be in the air, on surfaces and even in one’s own breath.

His research has received significant attention because of the finished product’s potential to revolutionize several key industries. In the agricultural field, the sensors can be used by farmers to detect the amount of pesticides in crops and help determine whether certain crops are fit for sale and consumption. In terms of national security, the sensors could be used to detect dangerous chemicals in incidents such as terrorist attacks or even gas leaks.

Many smartphone users, such as UCR student Adrianne Domingo, are fascinated to hear about Myung’s project. “I think this invention will benefit the community by providing a handheld tool (on smartphones) to detect harmful chemicals in the air, as well as detect chemicals in one’s breath that could be part of a disease one might not know they even have. I think Professor Nosang Myung is brilliant for coming up with an idea like this,” stated Domingo, a fourth-year psychology major. The project has also gained local praise by Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge, who stated, “This model is one of the crowning achievements in our quest to continue to be recognized as one of the most intelligent communities in the world,” in an article by UCR Today.

Before joining the UC Riverside faculty in 2004, Myung worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he worked to help monitor air quality at the International Space Station.

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