Welcome to sensor country
Teaching things to feel
MEMS sensors are revolutionizing everyday life. In fitness wristbands, they help people achieve better health. In cars, they identify dangerous situations in the blink of an eye. And in smartphones, they adjust screen orientation. In Renningen, Reinhard Neul is working on making these sensory organs of the connected world even better.
“In the future, nearly all everyday objects will likely be equipped with sensors,” Reinhard Neul says. “Sensors enable things to learn how to feel, as it were, like us humans. They collect information and are a key technology for the internet of things.” MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors are already capable of recording and processing a wide range of phenomena, such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, movements, humidity, gases, and much more.
The aim in Renningen is to improve these features even more, which is why the perfect conditions for doing so were created at the research campus. This included setting up a state-of-the-art clean room, since even the tiniest of dust particles can cause big problems during the development of MEMS structures. All air that enters the room is subjected to an elaborate filtration process, which reduces the number of particles per cubic meter to a maximum of 370. By way of comparison, there are around 35 million particles in one cubic meter of air in a typical urban environment.
“In a working environment like this, it’s a lot of fun to constantly research new areas of application for sensors,” Reinhard Neul says. And the areas of application are diverse. For example, sensors could help diagnose and treat medical conditions at an early stage and even cure illnesses in the future.