Gas sensor technology improvements are leading to new applications – Interview with Cambridge CMOS Sensors

Air quality is becoming a major concern, and therefore gas sensors are increasingly attracting interest. Gas sensing technologies are not new. Gas sensors embedded in gas detectors for defense and industrial safety applications form a highly regulated and mature market.

But the growing awareness of the air quality challenge humankind faces is creating new applications and opportunities. These include gas sensors in consumer products like home devices, wearables and smartphones, or for buildings and cars, including indoor/in-cabin air quality monitoring. Gas sensing technology is a complex field with many different sensing approaches. In general, the right selection for gas sensing technology will depend on price, form factor, power consumption, sensitivity and response time. CMOS technology is very attractive here as it allows size and cost reduction, specifically for applications where form factor and price are critical parameters. Yole Développement (Yole) has therefore recently released a new report on market, application and technology trends: Gas Sensor Technology and Market.

Gas sensors roadmap yole i micronews bd
In this context, the report’s authors, Dr Benjamin Roussel, MedTech Activity Leader and Dr Eric Mounier, MEMS & Sensors Senior Analyst , are pleased to interview Paul Wilson, Cambridge CMOS Sensors’ (CCS) Product Marketing Director. Mr Wilson shares his vision of the gas sensor market and how CCS, thanks to its innovative CMOS approach, will be a major player in this industry.

Yole Développement (YD):  Could you briefly introduce Cambridge CMOS Sensors (CCS) and its history?

Paul Wilson (PW) : Founded in 2008, Cambridge CMOS Sensors (CCS) is an industry leader in gas sensor solutions for consumer applications. CCS products are uniquely based on a CMOS silicon platform with added intelligence for easy integration into a range of end products for air quality monitoring and breath analysis.
Key features of CCS products include ultra-low power consumption, fast response time, embedded intelligence and ultra-small form factor. These features have enabled the CCS products to be integrated into smartphones, wearables and smart home devices. Additionally, the gas sensor solutions are scalable and cost efficient through the use of standard high volume semiconductor manufacturing processes.
With headquarters in Cambridge UK, CCS has direct local engineering and commercial support in China, Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and USA. CCS is an ISO9001: 2008 certified fabless semiconductor company with an established high-volume supply chain.

YD:  What is the commercialization status of CCS’ products in different applications?
PW: CCS has many different products today with more in development. The CCS801 are available for indoor air quality and CCS803 for ethanol/breath analysis. These metal oxide gas sensors are now in volume production. Our next sensor, CCS811, for indoor air quality is in sampling now will be available in volume production in March 2016. CCS811 is an ultra-low power digital gas sensor with an integrated a microcontroller for on-board processing in a multichip module (MCM) package. The next step will be further packaging integration, with CCS developing an ASIC for advanced multi-gas sensing platform

YD:  Which application is the fastest growing market for CCS?
PW: Key growth market for CCS , over the next five years, is Smart home were the adoption of Air Quality sensors has already started. Air quality is becoming a major concern as poor indoor air quality has serious effects on people. Homes and buildings are another source of volatile organic compound (VOC) emission that can create serious health issues with long term exposure at high levels, including nervous system damage and cancers. Air quality sensors for Smartphone and tablets are being evaluated by Tier1 OEMs but they are slower to adopt.

Yole:  What makes CCS’ technology unique? What are the benefits compared to other approaches?
PW: We have a unique CMOS-compatible technology that can be applied to different technology platforms: metal oxide (MOX) or non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) gas sensing. NDIR technology can be used either as an infrared emitter or a thermopile detector for gas sensing but also for non-contact temperature measurement or proximity sensing. CCS offers the only solution available which is suitable for high-volume consumer applications, based on standard CMOS, scalable and strongly protected by CCS’ intellectual property.

Cambridge CMOS sensors 811 yole i micronews bd
YD:  We saw that your gas sensors have been integrated in the personal air tracker developed by Atmotube. Do you foresee near-term integration of gas sensors in smartphones?
PW: We are in contact with several Tier 1 and Tier 2 smartphone manufacturers who are evaluating CCS technology but the adoption will be slower. We believe strong market traction will first come from smart home and accessory applications, enabling use case adoption in smartphones and tablets.

YD:  Do you plan to apply your technical platform to other type of sensors, such as humidity or pressure? Does your technical roadmap include combo sensors?
PW: We already have several collaborations for example design and demos with other semiconductor companies to test our sensors on their different MCU and wireless platforms with other sensor solutions. CCS does envisage the integration of other sensors such as humidity and temperature to compensate for gas sensors’ response and improve accuracy due to environmental changes. CCS is currently developing a multi-gas sensor platform with sensitivity and selectivity to different types of gases, such as combustible gases or NO2. CCS’ sensors could also be very suitable for end-product integration alongside a PM10 or PM2.5 particle sensor for outdoor air pollution.

YD:  MEMS technology allows size reduction of 50%, according to Yole’s analysis. What are the next steps for further miniaturization? 3D integration? Wafer-level packaging (WLP)?
PW: For CCS, the next step is to integrate more functions and more sensors in the same package, while keeping the same size. CCS is also working on size reduction and the next generation will be 20-30% smaller than the previous one.

YD:  Your technology can be applied to different detection principles, including resistive, infra-red, and pellistors. Which one would you bet on for portable applications?
PW: It all depends on the type of device. For a smartphone, an infrared solution is bulky and costly with complex optics. MOX is interesting and drift can be corrected with algorithms but traditional is high power. The average power consumption on CCS MOX gas sensors is <1mW when running in background mode. Price is always the strong bottleneck: less than $2 is generally the maximum accepted budget for a smartphone.

YD: What are the next steps of the development of CCS?
PW: For this year and the year after we plan to release a NO2 gas sensor and a multi-gas sensor able to detect up to four different types gases. Our infrared technology is also very interesting for other applications such as people counting or gesture control. CCS will also look at these new applications outside gas sensing.

Paul Wilson, joined Cambridge CMOS Sensors December 2013 and has over 20 years’ international experience in marketing, product management, applications and development gained at Cambridge Silicon Radio, Wolfson Microelectronics, Freescale Semiconductor and Philips. Paul has a proven track record of managing and developing new business with Tier 1 OEMs and ODMs in Asia, EMEA, Japan and USA in highly competitive markets including Audio, Consumer, Enterprise and Mobile.

 Sources :    logo yole petit     –     Cambridge CMOS sensors logo yole i micronews



Gas Sensors report 2016 yole i micronews

Gas Sensor Technology and Market

Disruptive technologies and emerging applications will make the gas sensor market skyrocket!

Find more

Others related reports