New technology could provide tiny, personal air quality monitoring devices. 

Physicists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems are developing portable infrared micro-spectrometers aimed at improving consumer access to air quality monitoring data. 

This technology could eventually be integrated into wearable devices, allowing individuals to monitor multiple toxic and greenhouse gases, thus providing better control over their exposure to harmful substances and enabling more informed health decisions.

In an era where health consciousness is paramount, data on personal wellbeing has become highly valued. 

The evolution from simple pedometers to sophisticated wearable fitness trackers that monitor heart rates, sleep cycles, and blood oxygen levels reflects this trend. 

However, continuous air quality monitoring remains largely confined to specific locations rather than following individuals.

To address this, an expert team has developed a portable infrared micro-spectrometer (MIMM). 

This new technology, detailed in a publication in Microsystems and Nanoengineering, uses a machine learning algorithm alongside metasurface spectral filter arrays. 

This configuration enables the microspectrometer to detect the unique infrared signatures of various gases with a single sensor. While the current prototype is matchbox-sized, it holds potential for further miniaturisation.

In contrast, the metasurface filter integrated with an off-the-shelf infrared detector allows for significant miniaturisation. 

TMOS researchers have created a filter array of metallic nanostructures on a silicon substrate, capable of detecting harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, and methyl-ethyl-ketone by tuning the spectral features through varying nanostructure periodicity.