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New non-contact sensor technology for medical scanner applications

10 November 2010

Plessey Semiconductors and the University of Sussex have announced a new, innovative and disruptive technology called Electric Potential Sensor (EPS). This is a completely new area of sensor technology that measures changes in an electric field in a similar way to a magnetometer detecting changes in a magnetic field.

The sensor, which requires no physical or resistive contact to make measurements, will enable innovative new products to be made such as medical scanners that are simply held close to a patient’s chest to obtain a detailed ECG reading or devices that can ‘see’ through walls. 
Professor Robert Prance of the University of Sussex, explained, “We created this technology initially as a non-invasive non-contact sensor for measurements in fundamental physics research. However, we quickly realised the many important applications for which this technology could be utilised.  Our Research Councils UK Basic Technology programme has allowed us to develop a generic Electric Potential Sensor and we have been able to demonstrate its application in a number of areas where the non-contact detection of electric fields can be used to deliver new innovative solutions and products.  For example, these include medical diagnosis and imaging, security, and the human-machine interface.  We are delighted to have found a partner that we can now go forward with to develop this unique technology into innovative product solutions for the marketplace.”

Dr. Keith Strickland, Technology Director for Plessey Semiconductors, said, “The EPS technology created by Professor Prance’s team at the University of Sussex is a significant innovation that will have a wide-ranging disruptive impact in the sensor market.  In conjunction with the University of Sussex, Plessey will be developing an exciting range of EPS sensors utilising our in-house expertise in semiconductor process technology and design.  In particular, our expertise with CMOS image sensors will enable us create very large chips with arrays of EPS sensors.  We expect to have our first product prototype available in Q3 of next year for a medical diagnosis product that will significantly advance the ease and quality of cardiac measurements.”

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