Cambridge CMOS preps NOx sensors

March 10, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Cambridge CMOS Sensors
Cambridge CMOS Sensors Ltd. (Cambridge, England) is going to the great outdoors in 2016 with the offer of at least a couple of sensors for measuring outdoor air quality.

In 2015 the company rolled out both analog and digital versions of gas sensor based on its micro-hot plate technology applied to detecting ethanol (alcohol), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide and dioxide (see Cambridge adds MCU to gas sensor for mobiles and Cambridge startup launches gas sensor for mobiles ).

The company now plans to use the same technology platform to produce devices sensitive to nitrous oxide and suitable for outdoor air quality measurement, Jess Brown, sales and marketing director, told EE Times Europe , on the fringes of the MEMS & Sensors Technical Congress in Munich, Germany.


Jess Brown of Cambridge CMOS Sensors

Brown said that the company's initial products, aimed at indoor air quality, had been well received by smartphone companies. "We are engaged with all of the tier-one OEMs in smartphones," he said.

The company's next products will be based on the same platform but with a different coating on the hot plate to provide sensitivity to nitrous oxide, which is itself a pre-cursor to nitric oxide, Nitrous oxide, produced as by product of road traffic and from burning other fossil fuels, is a leading atmospheric pollutant and an indicator of the presence of other types atmospheric pollution.

Brown said that Cambridge CMOS Sensors saw opportunities for monitoring the air quality in smart-city and smart-building initiatives in consumer and industrial applications.

At present Cambridge CMOS Sensors use XFab as foundry for its micro-hot plate MEMS and for the digital version add a bought-in bare die 8-bit 8051 microcontroller from Silicon Labs. The hot-plate uses of miniature tungsten heaters within a conventional CMOS process and can heat up to 500 degrees C within 10ms. Compared with traditional metal oxide gas sensors power consumption can be cut by 95 percent and the miniaturization allows fast cycle times and increased sensitivity to a target gas.

That same platform will be used for the NOx sensors Brown said although