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New high-temperature wireless industrial sensor

A new sensor has been developed that uses sound waves to measure temperature wirelessly in extreme industrial environments. It will be a boon to manufacturing industries.
New high-temperature wireless industrial sensor
A surface acoustic wave (SAW) is a sound wave that travels along the surface of an object. A piezoelectric device converts sounds to electrical signals (as in a microphone). Combining the two principles yields durable industrial temperature sensors capable of operating over a wide temperature range, and can also operate wirelessly. Such sensors can benefit high-temperature industries, including nanomanufacturing.

The 'Surface acoustic wave wireless sensors for high operating temperature environments' (SAWHOT) project, funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), was a European–Russian partnership aiming to produce and demonstrate wireless SAW sensors operating at unprecedented temperatures, both hot and cold. It brought together 10 European and 4 Russian partners from academia and industry.

SAWHOT aimed to design and develop technologies for manufacturing a SAW sensor operating between – 200 degrees Celsius and + 900 degrees Celsius. Key to the technology is a new piezoelectric material, Langasite, which has superior high-temperature properties. In addition, SAWHOT employed another superior new technology, nanomanufacturing lithography, to imprint much finer designs and components than previously possible.

Applications targeted by the project include production of carbon nanotubes, measuring temperature in gas turbine engines and monitoring temperature in high-voltage power sub-station feeders.

The ambitious project achieved its target goals of 650 degrees Celsius and 800 degrees Celsius. These milestones represent a breakthrough that should allow the use of SAW devices in a range of harsh environments seen in industry. These results have been published internationally and have led to several patent applications. The 900 degrees Celsius target was not achieved within the project duration.

Project achievements to date should generate business outcomes: certain technical processes developed could be implemented immediately, and others are ready for prototyping. However, the bulk of the project's commercialisation goals need further work. Industrial partners are interested in collaborating on the continued development and industrialisation of the SAWHOT technology, possible within three years.

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