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New, super sensitive biosensors can monitor anything from diabetes to air pollution

16 July 2014

Cambridge CMOS Sensors Ltd, a joint spinout company from the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge, has launched a new family of sensor products. The technology can be used in mobile phones and other handheld devices to measure air quality, or organic compounds such as acetone or alcohol.

Cambridge CMOS Sensors, which has also recently announced a £2.6 million investment, is developing miniaturised, ultra-low power gas sensors for new consumer, medical and industrial devices.

Two of the new products, which were launched at the Sensor + Test exhibition in Germany, incorporate Cambridge CMOS Sensors Infrared (IR) detection technology, while a third incorporates its metal oxide sensor technology.

The IR sensors are mid band and will be useful in devices measuring breath alcohol, or acetone, which can be used to monitor diabetes.

The metal oxide-based sensor can be used in similar applications: it has less selectivity than the IR devices, but equally good sensitivity and is a cheaper technology. It is also smaller and uses much less power than existing metal oxide sensors.

Julian Gardner, Professor of Electronic Engineering at the University of Warwick, and Chief Scientist for CMOSS, says: “These products will make many miniaturised testing devices much more available to consumers and to industry. They will enable smart phone manufacturers to develop air quality monitoring apps, or alcohol breathalyser apps. We also envisage wearable devices for health and fitness monitoring, or in the automotive industry we envisage in-car air quality and emissions testing”

The technology could be invaluable within the medical and home healthcare sector, where it could be incorporated into home testing devices to monitor a number of conditions such as diabetes, or in industrial settings where it could be used to test for hazardous gasses, leaks or fires.

Prototypes are already available and the company expects full scale production in less than 12 months. The product launch follows a significant expansion of the company as it moves into new premises on the Cambridge Science Park.