Contacts: Dr. Florin Udrea, Electrical Engineering
Mentor: Adrian Swinburne
The team of researchers led by Dr Udrea have been developing micro-hotplates using CMOS silicon-on-insulator technology, with the intention of using them as gas sensors. However, the devices may have a broader usefulness, and the i-Team will be asked to investigate.
Cambridge CMOS Sensors is a new Cambridge University spinout, founded by Dr. Florin Udrea (co-founder of CamSemi), Dr. Julian Gardner (head of the Sensor Research Laboratory) and Professor Bill Milne (co-founder of Nanoinstruments, and Head of Electrical Engineering and CAPE), to exploit the CMOS hotplate design.
The CMOS tungsten micro-hotplates can be heated up to 500C. With appropriate coatings they can be used to detect gases such as CO and NOx, or even used as alcohol breathalysers. With no coating they can be used as IR detectors. They are small, inexpensive to manufacture (especially in high volumes), low power (no more than 5-10mW), and can be turned on and off in milliseconds. Existing sensors have a significantly higher power consumption (around 1W), and a much slower response time, limiting their scope of use.
The challenge for the i-Team is to investigate and identify the most attractive sensor markets for this technology, as well as finding partners who can provide suitable coatings for further development of the sensors. In addition, there may be other (non-sensor) uses for micro-hotplates, which the team will need to evaluate.