Institut für Physikalische und Theoretische Chemie


PFDS – Pre-Ignition Fire Detection System

The Project PFDS won the first place in the INNOspace Masters competition of DLR (Deutschen Raumfahrtagentur). PFDS aims to develop a sensor system to detect fire sources such as cable insulations, plastics or fabrics in the cabin air of enclosed inhabitats like spacecrafts by their thermally driven outgassing of additives. More information can be foundhere.

Formaldehyde gas sensing with indium tin oxide

The utilization of Flame Spray Pyrolysis enabled the synthesis and simultanious depostion of a metastable In4Sn3O12 phase.
Investigations into the material's gas sensitive properties revealed superior sensor response to formaldehyde in the low ppb-concentration range when compared to most other volatile organic compounds.
Under the sponsorship of Alfred-Teufel-Stiftung work on the material continues to advance towards enabling industry adaptation of the sensor.

Investigation the sensor mechanism of In2O3 towards VOCs by operando DRIFT measurements

The key point in obtaining a selective and highly sensitive gas sensor is a detailed study of the «gas-solid» interaction mechanism in situ or in operando mode. The aim of this project is to study in detail the sensory properties of In2O3 to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform (DRIFT) spectroscopy measurements in dry and humid air. This method allows obtaining information about the chemical and structural composition of intermediate particles during the redox reaction on the surface of a gas sensor or all other types of solid surfaces in operando mode. In order to get a complete picture of the In2O3 sensory response mechanism, it is planned to carry out density functional theory (DFT) calculations. It is expected that the application of the operando DRIFTs spectroscopy method in combination with DFT calculations will significantly supplement the knowledge about the sensory properties of nanocrystalline In2O3 to VOCs.

- Philipp Schwartz Scholarship from the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung

Related activities

The successful research and development work in chemical sensing with applications in numerous industrial and commercial sectors was bringing our research group in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium also to the field of the so called "Ambient Assisted Living" (AAL). In a number of European and national projects we have been laying the foundation of ground breaking regional activities which turned  into the building of a demonstration and research house which is called "LebensPhasenHaus" (LPH), could be translated in English as home for all phases of life. The opening of the house is dated back to 2015. For more information please follow the link to

The successful work in the domain of the LPH was and is continued leading to the foundation of the State Competence Centre Digital Care Baden-Württemberg (PflegeDigital@BW) which is also related to our working group. For information please follow the link to