Being asked to describe technology breakthroughs in environmental sensors with applications like air and water monitoring prompts the obvious question, 'If the first micro-machined gas chromatograph was demonstrated in 1979, why didn't the environmental sensor market experience the explosive growth that marked the microchip industry?' The answer lies in a combination of factors that include economics, technical maturity, and proper timing. However, the realization of full market potential for environmental sensors is about to take a giant leap forward as evidenced by the creation of Albany NanoTech (www.albany.edu/cat).
Albany Nanotech has assembled a critical mass of intellectual expertise and infrastructure to ensure the exponential growth of the sensor market in the next five years. This growth is made possible through the coalescence of microchip and sensor technologies to develop integrated 'sensor-on-a-chip' systems that employ the vast scientific wealth, miniaturization expertise, business development models, and high yield production protocols of the microchip industry. The outcome is an amazing array of sensors that are portable, cheaper, more reliable, and easier to deploy and use.