Editorial Feature

Emerging Applications And Products of Nanotechnology-Based Sensors

In recent years, rising car production and increasing product usage have prompted mounting demand within the European market for automotive sensors, which Bosch and Siemens dominate. Demands for reduced emissions and increased safety requirements by the automotive sector and transportation are expected to be major drivers of future market growth. Future growth is anticipated to derive from wider usage of anti-lock brake systems (ABS), electronic stability programme (ESP) and position sensors in the short term and gas sensors in the next few years. Growth in Europe is being stimulated by EU emissions legislation, including the Euro 2000 measures and further regulations are expected in 2005, which should drive the market forward. Suppliers of sensors and sensor systems are mostly large companies that are able to manufacture in large volumes at low cost while continually investing in research and development.

Impact of Nanoscale Sensors

The emergence of MEMS and nanoscale sensors is decreasing the size, weight and cost of sensors and sensor arrays by orders of magnitude, while at the same time improving their spatial and temporal resolution and increasing accuracy. MEMS and microsystems technologies have played a role in automotive engine control in the form of Manifold Absolute Sensors since 1979. Pressure sensors, accelerometers, angular rate sensors, and a variety of other MEMS/MST devices are produced in large volume as a consequence of requests on:

•        Longer warranty periods and increased reliability of components

•        Emission and safety standards

•        Higher performance and comfort

•        Lower costs

•        Enhanced vehicle diagnostics.

Properties of Automotive Sensors

Automotive sensors must live in the environment of the engine compartment, where temperatures can exceed 200ºC. The integration of sensors with electronics further complicates the issue of hostile environments. In products and manufacturing systems, environments that include high temperatures, high vibration, high noise, and corrosive chemicals impede the implementation of sensors. The incorporation of nanomaterials into sensors has the potential to offer improved robustness without loss of sensitivity. Using nanoparticles in solid-state gas sensors shows promise for use in long-term emissions monitoring. Commercial gas sensors based on thin films have insufficient stability and grain size control for long-term use.

Growth Rate of The Sensor Market

Propelled by legislated safety and environmental requirements as well as a consumer market demanding safer, cleaner, and more reliable vehicles, the worldwide automotive sensor market is valued at £2.87bn, and is expected to continue growing at an annual average rate of about 7%

Primary author: Institute of Nanotechnology

Source: Introduction to Nanotechnology CD ROM

For more information on this source please visit Institute Of Nanotechnology

Uploaded March 2004

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