Consortium of Excellence in Advanced Sensors and Their Applications

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch Planning Architecture and Civil Eng


This project is designed to promote a synergy of the skills and expertise of key personnel in several key research groups, across a range of disciplines both in the UK and overseas, and working with targeted user communities to share their expertise and wide experience, with the people involved enthusiastically collaborating for success. In so doing, the prime theme of this project is to create new technological opportunities which would otherwise be very difficult to develop individually due to the limitations in individual facilities and resources and the depth of knowledge required, to create real innovation over a broad technological field. Most importantly, the focus of the application is on the team brought together to 'bring out the best' in a group of engineers with complementary skills, to achieve the step change that is needed to meet the challenges of competitiveness for the user community over the next decade and beyond. The consortium brought together for the first time, is one of significant diversity, which encompassing expertise and experience in optical fibre sensors, MEMS sensor design, fabrication and integration, chemistry, chemical engineering, communications and civil structures and has been created to make the step change in both the required sensor technologies and material science and thus developing a competitive edge to meet demands from user communities. The consortium has an excellent balance of experienced and early career staff, but above all is a group with the intellectual depth and drive to be successful, to take on new challenges and meet new opportunities.The project planned adds a new dimension to what is a very strong current grants portfolio of the UK consortium. The applicants hold a number of prestigious grants - amongst them 2 Platform Grants, 2 Challenging Engineering grants and 1 Advanced Fellowship (the latter two specifically recognizing excellence among early career researchers), together with a number of Responsive Mode grants and contracts with a strong KT dimension e.g. KTPs, which together emphasise meeting today's research needs.


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McPolin D (2011) Preliminary Development and Evaluation of Fiber-Optic Chemical Sensors in Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering

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Srinivasan S. (2009) Fibre optic relative humidity sensors for long-term monitoring of concrete structures in Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure - Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure, SHMII 2009

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Lam C.C.C. (2008) Calibration of Optical Fiber Refractive Index Sensor with Potential for Structural Corrosion Monitoring in American Concrete Institute, ACI Special Publication

Description This project was successful in promoting a synergy of the skills and expertise of key personnel in several key research groups, across a range of disciplines both in the UK and overseas, and working with targeted user communities to share their expertise and wide experience, with the people involved enthusiastically collaborating for success. The prime theme and the operation of this project has been focused around the creation of new sensor technologies, targeting challenging industrial applications.

Through careful discussions with academic and industrial partners, it had been identified and agreed by the consortium that corrosion represented a major challenge for the consortium to tackle, as over 50% of the structural deterioration in reinforced concrete is caused by corrosion through carbonation or chloride penetration. Thus the research of this project was able to address this challenge, through a synergy of various research strengths present in the consortium. As a result, a series of novel optical fibre sensors and sensor designs has been created and evaluated subsequently in the research laboratories and then on site and the results obtained have both been published extensively in several International Conferences and been submitted to peer-reviewed journals for publication.

The technological advancement through working as a consortium has been clearly reflected in the novel designs and fabrication of optical fibre chloride, pH, humidity, strain and refractive index sensors. With the specific synthesis of chloride and pH sensitive sensor materials in chemistry laboratories at National Taiwan University and at City University London with the support from the University of Glasgow, several miniaturized sensor probes were constructed in the optical fibre sensor laboratory at City University London and subsequently tested and evaluated in the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen's University of Belfast. With the staff exchange between Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Acreo/KPRC, both densely distributed FBG-based sensor system and eclipse-fibre based refractive index sensors have been created and tested in different working environments. The joint effort from University of Limerick, Public University of Navarra and City University London has enabled the successful creation and tests of new type of U-bend pH sensors created through the Layer-by-Layer coating technique. On the other side, the communications between Imperial College, Queen's University of Belfast and City University London have shaped up several new sensor package designs, showing enormous potential to be implemented for field tests.

The consortium has been brought together for the first time to make the step change in both the required sensor technologies and material science and thus developing a competitive edge to meet demands from user communities. Although the project itself has come to an end of its 18 months period, the consortium has identified new challenges and new opportunities and the collaborations across disciplinary borders are continuing. For example, the Newton International Fellowship has been submitted by City University London to invite a post-doctoral Fellow from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore to work in London for two years using novel photonic crystal fibre sensors for biomedical applications. The recent success of the joint Royal Society/National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) application between City University London and National Taiwan University and of the student exchange between City University London and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has created a new research direction through the development of novel chemical and biological sensors for homeland security. In addition, the strong participation of Sengenia throughout the project has added a strong KT dimension to the project to emphasize meeting today's research needs.
Exploitation Route 1. To create an effective people focused consortium for excellence in sensors and their applications
2. To foster novel ideas and build the skills of the people involved through collaboration across disciplines, emphasizing the development of expertise and awareness outside the 'comfort zone' of a familiar discipline
3. To equip career researchers for their future roles: for them to gain confidence with the international community and to become more conversant with the needs of industry and the user communities
4. To utilize fully the available expertise in each group, in so doing creating a synergy of ideas, promoting flexibility of working methods and thus creating long term benefits to engineering and the physical sciences: 'two-way' and 'multi-way' knowledge transfer being integral to the success of the approach
5. To add value to the portfolio through the complementary skills in each group, by developing the people involved and enhancing their value to the UK economy
6. To build sustainable links with leading national and international groups in each field: emphasizing global competitiveness and knowledge transfer of the results achieved
7. To promote new links to the end-user community: building new cross-disciplinary bridges arising directly from the partnership, to benefit the UK and to hone its competitive edge
Sectors Construction

Description As a people focused project, the major beneficiaries hve been personnel in a number of areas of science and engineering, which include 1. UK industry who have direct access to the outcomes of the feasibility studies carried out under the partnership, drawing upon the complementary expertise and the breadth of experience within the consortium across the disciplines involved. 2. UK Academics whose home Universities benefit from the enhancement of their respective current research portfolios and the widening of the technological base as a result of the synergy of expertise brought together through partnership. 3. The investigators, especially the early career academics involved, who benefit from the experience gained over the coordination and management of the team and the research project 4. Early career PDRAs involved who gained significant experience by working in different Universities and across different sectors, which creates a unique platform for them to develop their future careers 5. Society in general through better measurement technologies developed and their advanced applications, meeting 'real world' needs.
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Construction,Electronics
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description Acreo 
Organisation Acreo
Country Sweden 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2007
Description City University 
Organisation City, University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
Start Year 2006
Description Federal Inst for Materials Research BAM 
Organisation BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
Start Year 2007
Description Limerick University 
Organisation University of Limerick
Country Ireland 
Sector Academic/University 
Start Year 2007
Description Nanyang Technological University 
Organisation Nanyang Technological University
Country Singapore 
Sector Academic/University 
Start Year 2007
Description Sengenia Ltd 
Organisation Sengenia Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2007
Company Name Sengenia Ltd 
Description Sengenia Limited is a fibre optic sensor company, bringing ingenuity in sensing. Fibre optic sensors are revolutionising the world of sensing and monitoring through the recognition of their numerous advantages over alternative technologies. 
Year Established 2007 
Impact Micron Optics, a major US based sensor and instrumentation company has licensed Sengenia Ltd to distribute their products in the UK due to profile this spin out has developed.