School of Chemistry

Real-time Air Fingerprinting Technology (RAFT)

The University of Leicester’s expertise for measuring the trace composition (VOC/OVOC) of complex mixtures of gases in real-time is being deployed through a new regional demonstrator project, Real-time Air Fingerprinting Technology (RAFT). RAFT will innovate with industry to adopt technology and generate joint IP to better exploit commercial opportunities.

What is Real-time Air Fingerprinting?

Simply put, it is an electro-mechanical nose that is capable of instantaneously measuring trace constituents in air. As a nose it measures many components simultaneously, leading to the ability to create fingerprints of complicated compositions. The technology is fast, sensitive, quantitative and real-time. This is powerful information about gas-phase composition.

RAFT can help companies from all sectors develop new innovations and products to follow in real time the emissions of volatile organic compounds and gases, from automotive emissions sampling to breath analysis for healthcare.

Applications are many:

  • Forensic analysis
  • Detection of arson accelerants at crime scenes
  • Security
  • Breath analysis
  • Food analysis
  • Chemical fingerprint of paint type and emissions
  • Automotive emissions
  • Medical diagnostic or prognostic
  • Process monitoring
  • Consumer product testing
  • Environmental monitoring or measurement

How does RAFT work?

Sample air is drawn in and reacted with our gas-phase fingerprinting solution - the choice of the fingerprinting solution can change the fingerprint, giving added functionality. After the 'inking' process all the molecules are weighed simultaneously. This process is very fast, with one million fingerprints being collected every second. The information coming from the fingerprints is then sorted very quickly using computer techniques to classify the fingerprints in real-time.

Why is this important?

Health and safety, environmental regulation, quality control and assurance, and crime detection (to name but a few) all require the measurement and discrimination of complex gas mixtures.

We have established a RAFT demonstrator facility (PDF, 256kb) with the explicit aim of working with businesses to make them more competitive.

For information on how to engage with RAFT, please contact:

RAFT is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through EMDA (East Midlands Development Agency) and the University of Leicester.

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