Research and funding projects We research for the future
Participation in national and international research projects has a long tradition at Sensitec, which goes back to the company's origins as a private research institute and continues uninterrupted to this day. The potential of the relatively new xMR sensors for many different applications could unfold quickly, in particular thanks to the cooperation with experts from research facilities, universities and companies.
MoSeSPro Modular sensor systems for real-time process control and smart condition assessment
Motivation / targets
The project was initiated in the scope of invitations for tender "sensor-based electronic systems for applications for industry 4.0". Using the three MR sensor technologies AMR, GMR and TMR creates a modular, open sensor construction kit (hard- and software), in order to optimise assembly, handling and packaging processes under the aspect of industry 4.0. Systems are to be implemented that offer a higher resolution and much faster signal processing than the currently available systems, while being independent of an external energy supply and wirelessly linkable. A high signal processing capacity is to permit condition and process monitoring in real time.
In the project, various condition monitoring options are evaluated with MR systems using a demonstrator. The demonstrator is integrated into production processes in the last project section as well. The project partners contribute their know-how, depending on industry and application background. For example, the following subjects will be dealt with:
- Self-X-sensor elements for position and rotary encoder application
- Self-diagnosis-capable drive controller construction kit
- Wireless, real-time capable interface for sensor networks, independent of the autonomous energy supply
- Robust, integrated sensor electronics for use of the self-X-properties
- Evaluation methods and algorithms for linked sensors, self-X and electromagnetic actors
Results / outlook
The project is to lay the foundation for smart sensor networks for condition monitoring already during evaluation of the options. The focus is on the area of data transmission and energy efficiency. Many sensor data are to be available quickly and without subsequent complex evaluation, which suggests data pre-processing within the sensor.
The project will enrich the chapter of Industry 4.0 and reduce some technical obstacles to implement special measuring tasks.
Further information on the project can be found on the project's website.
Modular sensor systems for industry 4.0
Source: MoSeS-Pro: Universität des Saarlandes/ZeMA, Photo: Oliver Dietze
AQUILA High-resolution and highly compact energy-autonomous MR position sensors for smart production facilities and devices
Motivation / targets
The project target is a high-resolution, small and cost-efficient position sensor system to be integrated into industrial systems. It was to be resistant against contamination. For this, the MagnetoResistive sensors were to be developed further so that they could be used for high-resolution measurements below 100 nm. TMR sensors that can be applied even with measuring bodies at low magnetic pole pitch due to their comparatively small dimensions are to be used. Dedicated new lithographic magnetic scales were developed and produced specifically for this. Further targets are a modular overall system that can be simply and quickly adapted to different application requirements, as well as independence from external power supply by an Energy-Harvesting module. The measuring system forms the basis and an important part of a cyber-physical system for monitoring and control of machines and devices within the scope of Industry 4.0.
The following system modules were researched and developed in the course of the project:
- Lithographically-galvanically produced magnetic scales (pole length: 20 μm) and innovative scale concepts based on this technology
- Pole-adjusted TMR position sensors
- Magneto-elastic Energy Harvester/multi-source Harvester
- 3D setup and connection technology to integrate the sensors, scales and Energy Harvesters with extremely small distances
- A friction layer on the sensor and scale, which permits a contacting, wear-free operation where possible
The position measuring system is tested in two different application demonstrators, and suitability for specific applications in production systems is documented (robustness, reliability).
Results / outlook
All project goals were accomplished.
InnoServ Innovative service products for individualized, availability-oriented business models for capital goods
Despite increasing demand for guaranteed availability of capital goods, many companies are reluctant to offer these guarantees (so-called availability-oriented business models). Reasons for this include a lack of operating data, a lack of transparency regarding the condition of the machines during the usage phase and a lack of knowledge about customer behaviour during operation. In the context of industry 4.0, technologies available today offer new possibilities for realising innovations in the service sector and eliminating the deficits mentioned above.
The overall goal of the InnoServPro project is to realize individualized, availability-oriented business models through the development of innovative service products. The basis for this is on the one hand the development of intelligent, communication-capable components that provide real-time data on machine condition and customer behavior from the operation of capital goods. On the other hand, availability-oriented business models require the management of all service-relevant information, a cloud-based, flexible communication platform, methods for pattern recognition, a back-end as an integrated database, and a front-end for displaying service-relevant information.
Task of Sensitec within the project
For the UseCase of the Grimme potato harvester, the wear of the first intake conveyor in the machine should be monitored. Sensitec was commissioned with the development of a sensor concept and the provision of the first prototypes in the project. These prototypes were installed in the machine and provided sensor data over a total of two harvest periods for the project partners involved in pattern recognition in the sensor data. The challenges for the sensors are the very rough environment (dirt, sand, stones etc.) as well as the high change of the air gap due to the unsteady running behaviour of the belt.
Concepts were developed with the help of which availability-oriented business models can be developed and implemented. The development process can be carried out both from a market-driven perspective and from a technology-oriented perspective.
In addition, two monitoring concepts were developed within the project period, which, depending on the nature of the application, are suitable for monitoring individual wear components or for monitoring the overall mechanical system. A new flexible, hardware-based communication platform can also be used for retrofitting different capital goods.
And a cloud-based IT communication platform was developed that transfers the data of the intelligent communication-capable components via a mobile data connection or manual synchronization to the platform, where they can be evaluated and made available for various work processes.
(Source: GRIMME Landmaschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG)
COSIVU Compact, smart and reliable drive unit for fully electric vehicles
Motivation / targets
This project, subsidised by the EU, was motivated by developing a highly integrated and compact electrical motor that can be used as a wheel hub drive. The focus was on use of modern silicon carbide semiconductors in connection with an ultra-compact cooling system, in order to meet the high performance density.
For the project, a power electronic system was integrated based on SiC semi-conductors within a compact motor. The current sensor CFS1000 by Sensitec that was used for this is flexible and small enough to permit many freedoms for the design. A specially developed shield concept protects the sensor from external field influences. The specially developed water cooling system ensures direct cooling of the semi-conductors and quick removal or distribution of heat, so that the motor can achieve a high performance. The wheel hub motor has a 24 V-voltage supply and a CAN-interface for communication with the on-board electronics.
Results / outlook
In the project, an ultra-compact drive controller based on SiC semi-conductors has been developed. It can be used within a wheel hub drive unit. The SiC semi-conductors permit a high power density. Combined with a compact water cooling, a wheel hub motor prototype has been developed that offers the basis for a product development for hybrid vehicles in the industrial vehicle area.
Further information on the project can be found on the following website.
MRCyte Magnetic flow cytometrics
Motivation / targets
Design and optimisation of GMR sensors for the magnetic flow cytometrics for quick and simple determination of cell concentrations in the blood ("Point-of-care"-diagnosis), e.g. for cancer treatment or emergency treatment after accidents.
The project's target is using magnetic markers with super-paramagnetic properties to mark blood components (cells) and to individually route the marked cells via the GMR sensor, so that the number of the desired cells can be counted to determine their concentration in the blood.
This requires a sensor that detects the scatter field of a cell (or other biological materials), which is occupied by super-paramagnetic markers. Most of all, the number of cells occupied by markers is to be counted. Therefore, highly specialised and adjusted GMR sensors are needed that are resistant to the aggressive medium blood while also permitting a distance between the sensitive sensor layers and blood cells at less than 0.1 µm. The sensors are to be industrially produced, in order to ensure later use at high numbers.
In addition to the activities of the other project participants, among others dealing with the mechanical components and microfluidics, the essential Sensitec project part was development of a suitable sensor for detection of the magnetic markers.
Various sensor designs were implemented within the project, in order to ensure suitable sensor geometry for best recording of the markers. The sensor properties were optimised here by varying the sensor layers. A special protective layer above the sensor was developed in order to resist the partially strongly corrosive fluids (such as blood). The sensor design was also executed so that the sensor signals optimally match the input stage of the signal processing Asic.
Results / outlook
In the project, the GMR sensors were successfully integrated into newly developed disposables, the task of which is to route the blood fluid across the sensor, record measured values and feed them into the evaluation unit, which was also developed. Tests with blood cells have demonstrated feasibility of the new overall system and thus documented the possibility of a magnetically based cytometry test at the Point-of-Care without using a central lab.
xMR sensors in use across the globe!
Here you will find some of our reference applications and learn about the varied options for implementing a wide range of measurement tasks with MagnetoResistive sensors.