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MEMS-CMOS gas sensor makes its way to smartphones

Posted: 09 Nov 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Cambridge CMOS Sensors? smartphone? gas sensor? CMOS? MEMS?

During the recent MEMS Executive Congress 2015, Cambridge CMOS Sensors Ltd has announced the 1mm2 MEMS-CMOS die that are small and cheap enough to become ubiquitous in mobile devices. For the first time, a company has beat Apple in developing novel types of MEMS sensors in smartphones.

Cambridge also announced its first design-win in K-Free Wireless Ltd (Shenzhen, China). Carriers apply their own name to K-Free's white-box smartphones.

"We would love to be in Apple's iPhone, which the K-Free phone copies right down to the colours," said Jess Brown, a director at Cambridge. "But we also have customers pending in the U.K. where sealed houses have the problem of dangerous gas build ups."

MEMS-CMOS hotplate-based gas sensors

Only Cambridge CMOS Sensors claims to have a MEMS-CMOS hotplate-based gas sensors that can scale to smaller sizes along with the ITRS using the top metal oxide to tuned it to sense specific gases after being heated up by the hotplate below it. (Source: Cambridge CMOS Sensors, used with permission)

Cambridge CMOS Sensors' design win at K-Free one-ups Apple with its all-digital construction of a MEMS-CMOS CCS811 sensor. The sensor can be configured to sense volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as carbon monoxide from cheap heaters, formaldehyde in cheap furniture, or even used as a breathalyser since driving-drunk is a jail-sentence offense in China, according to Brown.

MEMS-CMOS design-wins

MEMS-CMOS design-wins with K-Phone and K-Free white-box smartphone that will be branded by Chinese carriers for their home markets where sensing dangerous chemicals in the air is critical to one's health as they move about the incredibly polluted cities, homes and businesses. (Source: Cambridge CMOS Sensors, used with permission)

In the U.K., a relatively new type of sealed house construction practice, putting plastic under the entire house, including the actual foundation, has opened a market for sensing noxious gas build-ups inside houses where there is no ongoing ventilation.

For other worldwide markets, the all-digital CCS811 sensor can be configured with different top-metal oxides or filters to detect only CO2, only ethanol, or nearly any other noxious gas. It can also be configured to measure the outside air quality, including nitrogen dioxide [NO2], in cities from Beijing to Los Angeles.

"It can tell you when to open window for ventilation while inside where very low levels of VOCs have been found to make people's minds 61 per cent less efficient in decision making," claimed Brown.

But the biggest benefit of the MEMS-CMOS gas sensor, according to Brown, is that it can be scaled continually as the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) scaled silicon chips to smaller and smaller sizes.

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