Kristin: A range of sensor technologies are enabled through micro and nanotechnologies. It is interesting that sensors can take so many forms: mechanical, chemical, biological – and that of course, they employ combinations of these as well.
- Anja Boisen from DTU spoke about the potential of cantilver sensors. At DTU, they are looking at making new types of mechanical sensors and applying this to the detection of explosives, detection of gas (eg nerve gas), water quality (eg pesticides) and food quality (eg colour change detection on release of gases or vapours). Instead of optical methods they are refining a piezoresitive readout which allows for work with non-transparent liquids. The challenge is the sensitivity, but Anja suggested that doping of the resistor can help with this.
- Christophe Vannahme from the University of Karlsruhe spoke about microfluidic lab-on-chip sensors using PMMA (a transparent, thermoplastic polymer which is often used an alternative to glass) and integrated organic lasers that supply high efficiency. The sensing schemes are based on transmission change and fluorescence.
- Luis Moreno-Hagelsieb from DICE at UCL, is developing an electrical biosensor able to measure changes in humidity – at levels sensitive to human breathing. The device therefore has useful health monitoring applications in both conditions like sleep apnea, but also in sports (eg measuring breathing rhythm against speed in running).
The talks so far have demonstrated the challenges in obtaining highly sensitive and reproducible measurement. And they’ve also demonstrated the useful outputs of such sensors for making decisions around health, environmental and other applications.