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Quantum Ally: MEMS & NEMS Sensor Technology

Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

Seismic Sensor Industry

The geometric theory of gravitation, so elegantly detailed by Albert Einstein in his 1915 paper, is arguably the greatest discovery in the history of mankind (or fire). With such knowledge at hand, gravitational physics — as the discipline is formally called — is able to analyze such amazing things as black hole dynamics, gravitational radiation and collapse, as well as applications of numerical relativity.

Gravitational physics can also come in useful in gravitational wave detection and seismicity, and in turn, when developing seismic sensors, which as an application can have great use in the energy industry, i.e. on-shore oil and gas exploration, which could be a gamechanger for the seismic sensor industry.

And one startup, as a spin-off from the Gravitational Physics Group at Nikhef, the National Institute for Subatomic Physics in the Netherlands, believes it has a solution.

Innoseis — founded in 2013 by CEO Dr Mark Beker and Johannes van den Brand, a professor of physics at Maastricht University —  has come up with viable solutions in seismic surveying. The startup’s MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) patented technology ‘provides wireless sensor solutions that are designed from the ground up to be ultra-low power and scalable to mega-node networks’.

MEMS Sensor Technology

Formally launched this October, Innoseis’ offering — helped by leveraging in-house expertise in high-precision, low power wireless sensing technologies, offers two main products, the Quantum sensing system, and the Tremornet, though it is marketed and sold under Quantum.

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The core of the technology used in Innoseis’ seismic sensors has its roots from experiments in collaboration with Nikhef in particle physics.

“We are working on sensor technology that would make telescopes more efficient and more sensitive. A similar kind of technology is also used in the oil and gas industry to look for new resevoirs of oil and gas and also to make more effective use of existing reservoirs.”

— Innoseis’ CEO Mark Beker

Innoseis’ MEMS sensor technology, as well as expert team, distinguishes it from its competitors within the industry.

Quantum Effects

As per the scaling laws for nanomechanical resonators, Micro- and nano-electromechanical devices’ (MEMS/NEMS) metrological properties improve when their size is reduced, yet when this happens they can also experience the weird phenomena of quantum effects. Because of this, many well-established companies and newer startups are developing and manufacturing quantum sensors for our 21st century needs: Muquans, Apogee Instruments, RAM Global, AOSense, and Vector Atomic are just some of the many companies on the global market.

As MEMS and NEMS sensor technology begins to see limits to its efficacy, there could be a situation when more companies employing the technology change their approach to one where quantum processes take a leading role.


Or maybe not.

According to Professor Kai Bongs, principle investigator of the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing and a professor at the University of Birmingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy, advanced sensing technologies have “the potential to create enormous economic value and change the way we live. Novel sensor capabilities and digital twinning are enabling disruptive innovation in a faster and cheaper way, creating unprecedented benefit to society and the economy.”

There, straight from the horse’s mouth — what more do you want?

If you found this article to be informative, you can explore more current quantum news here, exclusives, interviews, and podcasts.

James Dargan

James Dargan is a writer and researcher at The Quantum Insider. His focus is on the QC startup ecosystem and he writes articles on the space that have a tone accessible to the average reader.

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