Flexible Logic for Autonomous Gas Sensing (FLAGS)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Physics


With tightening industrial safety standards across the globe and increasing risks from air pollution in higher density cities,
low cost monitoring of the air we breathe for both safety and good health is an unfilled demand. Current gas detectors fulfill
the legal requirements, but at a cost that limits widespread use, especially in the third world. The cost barrier cannot be
broken with current PCB - silicon chip solutions and a radical rethink is required. Hybrid plastic electronics and dedicated
silicon chips along with integrated gas sensors is a design that is now possible, combining the knowledge of a polymer
electronics company, gas detector company and dedicated silicon chip suppliers. This new system could also offer a
radical new change in design allowing a wider acceptance of the product. This low cost gas detector can be the first
product of a family of personal safety monitors, air quality cards and homeland security / first responder protection alarms.

Planned Impact

The industrial gas detector market is divided globally as 25% Europe, 25% North America and 50% Asia and rest of the
world. Frost and Sullivan (Draft report: November 2012) value the European gas detector market at 550M euros, of which
48% are portable/personal detectors, with 67% of the sensors based on the technologies proposed in this project. So the
total portable gas detector market using this project's technologies is 180M euros in Europe and hence 720M euros
worldwide. Of this 720M euros market, it is estimated that 20% (180M euros) would be accessible to a low cost gas card.
Uptake would be rapid after certification because of the strong financial advantage of this product to contractors who must
comply with safety legislation. This is corroborated by the 2011 Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. on Gas Detection
Equipment market. This study projected the global market for Gas Detection Equipment to reach 1.5 billion US dollars by
the year 2017. BCC research estimated that the global market for gas sensors and gas metering is worth an estimated $3.9
billion in 2010 and is expected to increase to nearly 5.2 billion US dollars in 2015 with a 5-year compound annual growth
rate (CAGR) of 5.9%. From GCIS the Chinese market for portable gas sensor alone has been estimated to grow at CAGR
of 21% in 2009.
These market estimates are corroborated by an Alphasense internal study with its own customers which has demonstrated
very strong demand for the gas card product targeted by this project.
IDTechEx (2011) indicated that the logic and smart systems sector, including sensors, will lead to very large 100 billion US
dollars global market within the next decade and is expected to be the largest growth sector for printed electronics. Key
enablers for this market are cost and device performance, both of which are being addressed within the project. Plastic
Logic sees a large potential in interfacing sensors for autonomous systems.
The additional, "spillover" markets are new markets and hence more difficult to define; however, one example-citizens' observatories projects are being initiated in Europe (Copenhagen Wheel, CITISense) and in USA (UCSD and Berkeley
both have ongoing citizens' projects). With a minimum requirement of 250-500 cards per city, and an estimate of over 1,300
cities worldwide with over 500,000 population, it is easy to see that large quantities of these cards could be required as air
quality increases in priority (2013 is the European Year of Air).


10 25 50
Description We developed an integration process for printed complementary analogue circuits comprising p-type organic and n-type oxide transistors. This was used to fabricate operational amplifiers for conditioning and amplifying the signal from a chemical gas sensor.
Exploitation Route Follow-on project: We are continuing to develop the technology as part of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Large-Area Electronics.
Sectors Electronics,Environment,Healthcare

Description The work has resulted in a demonstration of an integrated gas card and a product prototype by our industrial partners, Alphasense and FlexEnable Ltd (formerly Plastic Logic Ltd).
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Electronics
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description Industrial funding
Amount £45,000 (GBP)
Organisation FlexEnable Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2018