IEEE Sensors – Day 2

30 10 2011

Another packed day here in Limerick. The plenary looked at the developments in sensing technology applied to the mobile phone market and how this will enable ‘The Internet of Everything’. Current research in this field include the use of ultrasonic transducers to communicate with your smart phone (they can hear it even if we can’t), chemical sensors in smart phones for first responders and MEMs based particulate monitors. However, despite the increase in processing power now common in phones (1GHz processors are in our pockets now – that’ the equivalent of 25 Pentium PCs) it’s still the LCD display which drains the battery. There’s a good summary relating to the application of energy harvesting to this problem, which is Vullers, et al, Solid State Electronics, Vol 53 (2008) pp684.

From there, it was off to listen to the application of emergent behaviour to groups of sensors. This showed that it is possible to realise the optimisation of a group of sensors by enabling them to sense their local environment and communicate only with their immediate neighbour. Whilst the application described the minimisation of noise levels in aircraft engines, this has the potential to offer a complete paradigm shift in how we make decisions from a large sensor installation. The next talk, focussed on the development of MEMs based logic structures for hostile environments, mostly targeting ionising radiation and high temperatures. Based on tungsten contacts, this does ask the question about neutron activation, especially as it becomes a gamma emitter with a 24 hour half life! The results though were very encouraging, demonstrating 2V activation and a 100MHz limit, with a 1uW leakage power and a lifetime of 10^9 operations.

A talk on SiC based detectors showed a significant piece of work on understanding H2S detection, through the use of Density Functional Theory (DFT) simulations. This showed that Ir based devices are more stable at high temperatures and have a higher sensitivity than Pt and this is related to the higher oxygen coverage of the surface. However, these results are taken in a 5% oxygen background.

IEEE Sensors poster extreme gas

Waiting for questions at the poster

This afternoon it was the poster session and so I spent the afternoon fielding questions about our work on high temperature HfO2 dielectric sensors. This seems to have attracted a good level of interest and two hours flew by talking to a wide array of people. Hopefully some of this interest will be followed up with some interesting collaborations for the future. As for now, it’s the end of this part of the day and it’s off to Thomond Park, the home of Munster rugby club for the gala dinner, once we get ours glad rags on.

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