Our licensing opportunities tagged with Sensors are shown below.
Thermocouples for temperature measurement at high temperatures suffer drift over time due to atomic migration. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a thermocouple sheath of unique design which significantly reduces high temperature drift. This both improves the accuracy of temperature measurement, and increases the durability of thermocouples.
This technology is applicable in many sectors including power generation, aerospace, heat treatment (of aerospace and other components), and automotive (turbochargers). Cambridge Enterprise is already collaborating with manufacturers and is seeking licensees with channels to market in each sector.
In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in vibration energy harvesting, especially to enable self-powered wireless sensor networks for structural health monitoring. While some early commercial solutions have witnessed increasing deployments, two of the key technical limitations still stubbornly persist; namely, the low power density relative to conventional power supplies and the mis-match between the narrow operational frequency bandwidth of conventional energy harvesters and the wideband nature of real vibrations. Researchers at the University are addressing these issues through employing vibration energy harvesting based on auto parametric resonance rather than the conventional approach of using the fundamental mode of resonance.
Bulk acoustic wave (BAW) sensors based on micromechanical systems (MEMS) offer significant advantages over quartz crystal microbalance (QCM); such as compact size, compatibility with electronics, lower power consumption, lower cost and higher reliability. However, their wide application to real-world detection remains limited by the temperature-dependence of their performance. Recently researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a novel Film Bulk Acoustic Resonator (FBAR) device which has the potential to overcome this limitation by enabling the simultaneous measurement of temperature and mass loading in a single device without increasing their size or adding complexity to the electronics. Through the use of a novel multi-layer device structure and electrode materials, temperature self-referenced FBAR resonators with high operating frequencies (~1-2 GHz) and world-leading Q-factors (>1500) have been produced paving the way for real-world monitoring using FBAR sensors.
Key potential benefits:
Parallel sensing of several physical variables within the same unit sensor
Small size (around 150μm × 150μm)
Ultrahigh sensitivity ( in range of 10-14 to 10-15g)
Tuneable frequency of actuation (suitable for >1 GHz applications)
Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) is an ultra-sensitive, non-destructive spectroscopic technique that enables characterisation and identification of molecules for a wide variety of potential applications including environmental sensing, forensic analysis and medical diagnosis. It potentially replaces fluorescence techniques due to its photon yield, lack of bleaching and label-free molecular signatures.
Wide adoption of SERS-based techniques remains, however, limited by lack of reproducibility and reusability of the SERS substrates. Recently, scientists at Cambridge University developed a novel approach, based on cucurbiturils, that has the potential to dramatically improve the usability of SERS-based techniques.
By accurately controlling the gaps between aggregates of metal nanoparticles using cucurbilturils as rigid sub-nanometre ‘cages’, analyte molecules can be held in the intense electric field regions between the nanoparticles providing the possibility of reliable, highly sensitive, molecular recognition based on SERS. Not only does this technique open up the possibility of using SERS to identify single molecules that have no affinity for metal surfaces, it is also potentially self-calibrating due to the Raman-activity of the cucurbituril spacer molecules themselves and reusable due to the triggered release of analyte molecules from the cucurbilturil ‘cages’ by chemical, photo-initiation or thermal means.
A unique polarisation control system utilising the flexoelectric effect exhibited by chiral nematic liquid crystals responding rapidly (100µs to 1ms) under the influence of an externally applied electric field.
The system provides switching angles of over 90 degrees, stable materials over wide operating temperature ranges, and precise control of polarisation state.
These characteristics make the system ideal for use in polarisation controllers to reduce the effects of polarisation mode dispersion (PMD), endless polarisation controllers, optical routers, and liquid-crystal displays.