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Ultra-Sensitive Gas Sensor Utilizes Diamond's Embedded Solution

Application Overview:

Pranalytica, based in Santa Monica, California, makes ultra-sensitive gas sensors for parts-per-trillion (ppt) level detection of several industrially and environmentally important trace gases including ammonia, benzene, ethylene, hydrogen chloride, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, freons and many toxic industrial chemicals. Pranalytica’s ammonia and sulfur dioxide sensors are being used in semiconductor clean rooms, environmental monitoring and noninvasive medical diagnostics. Extensions of Pranalytica’s gas sensing technology at parts-per-trillion (ppt) level allow the sensors to detect, at very low levels, the presence of chemical warfare agents important for homeland security and battlefront applications.

The Nitrolux, Pranalytica’s flagship amonia sensor, detects ammonia at less than 100 ppt levels. It uses a patented laser tuning technology for zero interference from common laboratory solvents. Nitrolux’s sensors provide simultaneous multistream capability for up to 8 gas streams. They can be monitored and controlled remotely over the Internet. The sensors can be deployed in remote locations where there is no easy access to wired networks, or land lines. They work on solar cells and come with an optional cellular modem that communicates to the Internet via a cellular network.

Customer’s Requirements:

The Nitrolux amonia sensor called for a powerful, rugged, embedded CPU with on-board digital ports, analog inputs and outputs, and fast analog scan using FPGS, external trigger. The CPU also had to support a wide range of input voltages to power up the board. Support for Linux was essential, and cost for the CPU needed to reasonable.

Diamond Systems’ Solution:

Diamond Systems’ Hercules-EBX CPU was selected for the Nitrolux. Hercules-EBX met all of Pranalytica’s requirements and then some. The board’s support for Linux (and driver examples) made development easy and the low noise levels on Hercules-EBX’s analog ports was an added bonus. Hecules-EBX’s cost was also lower than other solutions considered, while still providing the functionality and performance that was required for the project.



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