KCL Nano Optics are part of the Photonics & Nanotechnology Group in the Department of Physics at King’s College London.

As part of the London Light Launch, we will be demonstrating an all-optical sensing system based upon a nanostructured array of metallic nanorods, each a thousand times thinner than a human hair, made here at King’s College London. These nanorods are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment and so make a great optical sensor. We chose to use this sensing capability to detect hydrogen, which is a huge safety risk in industry due to its explosive nature in even very small amounts. In order to sense the presence of hydrogen, which is very difficult to see directly, the nanorods are coated in a shell which expands when exposed to hydrogen, which causes the material to become more opaque. With this sensor, that we will be demonstrating, we hope to improve safety in the chemical and hydrogen producing industries and also utilise it to detect the undetectable.