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Smart Sensing - the future of CO2 Reduction and Safer Environments

Multi Sensor Platform for Smart Building Management (MSP) is an €18million project funding by the EU FP7 programme, bringing together an impressive collection of research and industrial partners across Europe, including the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Siemens and Samsung. Materials Centre Leoben (MCL), an Austrian COMET K2 Competence Centre, is coordinating the project that is designed to strengthen the leadership of European industries in the highly competitive area of smart sensing systems in mobile applications.

The aim of the MSP project is to develop highly competitive production technologies enabling flexible integration of nanotechnology based multi-sensor systems with conventional electronic chips to meet the cost goals for handheld devices. This will open entirely new applications for smart building management and lifestyle products such as smartphones.

Up to 50% of energy consumption and CO2 emissions can be saved using intelligent air conditioning systems that are controlled by air quality! Additional infrared sensors provide fire alarm and detect and locate the presence of people in the building – this can set new safety standards in building technologies providing wireless communication between the sensor nodes and smartphones.

One major goal is to implement multi-sensor systems directly into smartphones for detecting harmful environmental situations which may negatively affect personal health or are even potentially dangerous. A gas sensor for carbon monoxide can provide warning of a defective heating system and an increased or even deadly CO concentration - a potential source of danger in millions of households worldwide! An ozone sensor can be used to monitor air quality and support athletes in planning outdoor training.

Professor Julian Gardner and Dr Marina Cole from Warwick's School of Engineering are key partners in the consortium, bringing a combined experience of over 40 years in sensor technology. They are designing a CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) based sensor that can detect hazardous particles in the air (called PM10 and PM2.5). These are particles of 10 microns or below in size and cause breathing difficulties in cities, and the sensor should also be able to detect finer particles like grass pollen.

Commonly used sensors for monitoring airborne-particle size distribution and concentration are based on optical measurement techniques. Unlike optical methods, the Warwick device is based upon acoustic principles, which do not require sophisticated and expensive setups and can be operated with low cost electronic circuitry, providing the desired sensitivity level.

UK-based company Cambridge CMOS Sensors is another of the 17 partners in the consortium. This successful spin-out company was co-founded by Prof. Gardner in 2008 along with colleagues from the University of Cambridge (

Further information:

S. Thomas, Z. Rácz, M. Cole, and J. W. Gardner, "Dual High-Frequency Surface Acoustic Wave Resonator for Ultrafine Particle Sensing," IEEE Sensors 2013, November 4-6, 2013, Baltimore, USA. DOI: 10.1109/ICSENS.2013.6688319