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ARS Home » Research » Research Project #413289



2008 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The goal of this study is to develop affordable, portable, and customized sensor systems detecting pest presence and volatile organic compounds.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) that indicate the presence of insect pest infestations, insect plant damage, and pesticide applications will be identified from available literature and through gas chromatography (GC) analysis performed in cooperation with scientists within our Unit. An instrument will be developed for collecting, monitoring, and recording gas emissions from the presence of quantity of these organic compounds. The first step is to develop a method to collect the gas emissions in a confined space. Next, a means of recording the gas measurement data automatically will be developed. Instrument development involves assembly of the sensor chamber and connections between the chamber and data collection system. Gas sensors will be mounted in the ceiling of the chamber and linked to a circuit board placed on top of the chamber, which will be connected to the power source. A data acquisition module will be used to convert the output from the gas sensors to digital output for recording and analysis. The data will be processed using principal component analysis, discriminate analysis, and other analyses based on statistical pattern recognition and artificial neural networks. The system hardware, software, and platform will be tested using the compounds of interest at differing levels of concentration to ensure proper system functionality. The working system will then be tested under laboratory and field conditions for its ability to detect varying concentrations of VOC from infested plants and pesticide applications.

3. Progress Report
This is a new project, with the goal of developing a customized, economical, and portable sensor system to detect the presence of arthropod pests (on the basis of the volatile organic compounds they emit), and also to detect volatile organic compounds from other sources. During the reporting period, efforts focused on research planning and the development of experimental protocols, and on implementation of initial studies. The work thus far has resulted in development of a single sensor system using a tin dioxide semiconductor that has high sensitivity to the vapors of organic solvents as well as to other volatile vapors. Evaluation of this sensor is in the preliminary stages. The ADODR of this project and the cooperator are located in close physical proximity and are in contact with each another on an ongoing basis. The ADODR and the cooperator (or key personnel working under the cooperator) meet and discuss the direction and progress of the work on a regular basis.

4. Accomplishments