Cambridge CMOS Sensors: Contributing to enhance the air you breathe.

Nat Edington, CEO
              Nat Edington, CEO

Cambridge CMOS Sensors (CCS) is a semiconductor company with industry leading gas sensor solutions. CCS products are uniquely based on a CMOS silicon platform with added intelligence which allows for easy integration into a range of end applications including air quality monitoring and breathe analysis. CCS’s products can be used to detect a range of gases including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide and ethanol vapors.

 

On average people breathe in almost 11,000 litres of air a day. And the need to monitor outdoor air quality is well accepted and guidelines were introduced by WHO (World Health Organization) to control outdoor air pollution limits as early as 1987. However, indoor air quality is often neglected when in fact it can be equally or more detrimental to the health of the individual than outdoor air quality. Particularly as we spend 80% of our lives indoors. In fact new evidence is emerging which shows that long-term exposure to indoor pollutants such as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) have a negative impact on your health, even at low levels. In particular, a recent study published by the Royal College of Physicians stated “The quality of the air is important, because it is here that we spend the majority of our time. A source of indoor air pollution is outdoor air, gaining ingress through windows, doors and building ‘leakiness.” Especially vulnerable are infants, toddlers and the pregnant. “The developing heart, lung, brain, hormone systems and immunity can all be harmed by pollution. Environmental effects on the embryo, fetus, baby and toddler may last a lifetime, but may take years or even decades to become apparent.There is also clear evidence that early exposure to air pollution can damage the lungs, and increase the risk of lung infections that may be fatal. It is known to have an effect on heart health in adult life. Research is beginning to point towards effects on growth, intelligence, asthma, and development of the brain and coordination.”

 

Because of this growing awareness of the dangers of air pollution, the demand for advanced gas sensing solutions which can be integrated into everyday connected devices that can inform the consumer is greater now than it has ever been. CCS is enabling the individual to achieve this with its range of low power, miniature gas sensors.

 

CCS has developed a range of MOX (Metal Oxide) gas sensors to detect low levels of VOCs typically found indoors. These gas sensors are based on a unique silicon platform which enables component miniaturization and delivers ultra-low power consumption enabling integration into connected devices such as smartphones, wearables, accessories and smart home devices. This allows the user to make a decision about their local environment, such as opening the window or leaving the area, or can be used to control automated ventilation systems within the smart home.In addition to the MOX gas sensors, CCS has also developed a range of IR sources which are used in NDIR (Non-Dispersive Infrared) sensors, a highly selective type of gas sensor. These IR components, with highly efficient, high optical output characteristics, enable the NDIR gas sensor to be lower power and smaller.

 

So far, CCS has focused on monitoring indoor air quality, measuring indoor pollutants such as VOCs. However as the number of gas sensors proliferate, massive amounts of data on the air quality both outdoors and indoors can be gathered and used to provide ultra-local data or used in smart city initiatives. The company plans to use its core micro-hotplate technology platform to expand into the measurement of outdoor air quality by producing devices sensitive to Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). NO2 is an atmospheric pollutant produced by road traffic and from burning other fossil fuels. It is also an indicator of the presence of other sources of poor outdoor air quality.