Sensichips addresses the challenge of combining heterogeneous functional materials with CMOS microelectronics into a single chip sensor: a microsensor. Our devices target a number of environmental sensing needs, while the platform can also scale to other applications. The detected chemical or physical property is processed and converted to an easy-to-use digital output.
We have developed a post CMOS process that’s easy and inexpensive to manufacture and allows for depositing a number of different materials in few processing steps. The process is versatile for small production and scales up to economies comparable to wafer batch manufacturing at a fraction of the tooling costs.
Most often sensitive materials don’t bode well with aluminium contacts and silicon oxide substrates, of which CMOS chips are made. Sensors exposed to the environment need to deal with a number of chemical agents that affect its reliability and lifetime. The sensitive material, an inert or oxide compound, coupled with aluminium electrodes doesn’t form quality ohmic contacts already at manufacture and contacts further degrade over time by environmental contamination. The useful part of the sensor signal is most often very small and buried into overwhelming levels of noise.
Sensichips has designed, at the transistor level, optimized signal conditioning analog circuits to help compensate for the sensor drifts. For high sensitivity detection it recovers the sensor signal even in the presence of noise levels substantially higher than the sensor’s own signal, it allows for multi-parametric readout to improve recognition. The versatile front end reads from on chip as well as external sensing elements and it supports a number of different transducer types. Microsensors can be configured into arrays distributed onto long cable stretches, with a single data wire, and are made to operate in synchronous coordination or asynchronously. Low power body micro networks, sensing of infrastructures or transportation, can be implemented at high cost efficiency.
Sensichips is currently showcasing its third version of the chip and it is designing the 4th and complete version. By mid next year it expects to provide samples to early partners.