Micro-Power CMOS Mid-infrared Spectrometer-on-a-chip

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


This project capitalises on the world-leading expertise and research infrastructure on complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS)-type devices and technologies available at the University of Cambridge and chemical microsensor technologies available at Warwick University to develop future smart sensors and generate innovative technology platforms by ascertaining UK leadership in gas sensing development.

The mid-infrared (MIR) spectral region is very important for real-life applications because it contains characteristic absorption lines that can be used to identify many organic and inorganic molecules. There is an increasing need to develop new innovative sensing technologies for many applications involving chemical analysis in healthcare, environmental monitoring or industrial process control. In addition, innovation in the consumer electronics segment is expected to grow at the highest rate for MIR sensors integrated into smartphones, tablets, wearable and medical devices, with the vision to deliver health or other services in more efficient ways and with benefits to patients and taxpayers.

Compared to other current technologies, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) recently came up as compact, integrated MIR sources used in a variety of gas sensors proven to be energy efficient. In addition, they are compatible with CMOS processes offering clear advantages in size, weight, and power, and further open the possibility of cost reduction leveraging standard high-volume semiconductor manufacturing processes for applications such as integration with consumer electronics. Various innovative MEMS based sensors and technologies have been pioneered at the University of Cambridge such as filterless gas detection and at the Warwick University such as the smart electronic tongue. These newly developed sensors and technologies have great potential for use in spectroscopy that can be exploited for the design and engineering of, e.g. novel healthcare technologies towards solutions or improvements of unmet clinical needs.

The Cambridge and Warwick research groups have an excellent track record for generating applied scientific research and in transferring technology to industry as world-leaders in CMOS microsensor technologies research to develop innovative solutions for specific unmet needs. The proposal aims to develop, for the first time, CMOS integrated MIR spectroscopic devices for specific applications and draws on several cross-cutting capabilities: a) custom-design MEMS MIR emitters with enhanced emissivity, exploring different nanomaterial integration techniques; b) development of novel filtering and sensing technologies for enabling spectrophotometry; and c) development of spectroscopic technologies through the application areas using relevant markers for well-being and fitness. Strong partnership with industrial and medical partners aims to ensure rapid market translation.


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