IOP Institute of Physics

For physics • For physicists • For all


For the development of the SonicSense acoustic gas sensor, which monitors the output of the therapeutic oxygen concentrators used in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

There is a trend in gas sensors away from chemical-type devices – which offer high sensitivity but poor lifetime and troublesome signal drift – towards physical sensors that measure a property of a gas. However, the widespread use of physical sensors is restricted, as they are expensive and have a high power consumption.

The Technology Partnership’s (TTP) SonicSense technology addresses both issues by turning the inexpensive piezoelectric buzzers used in doorbells or smoke alarms into an accurate, stable, low-power gas sensor. SonicSense generates and interrogates an ultrasonic acoustic resonance in the target gas; as the gas composition changes, so does the frequency of the acoustic resonance.

TTP is working with partners to commercialise the technology in a range of markets including energy, industrial safety and medical devices. For example, Philips Healthcare recognised the benefits of SonicSense technology to their oxygen concentrators, which are used to care for millions of COPD patients worldwide. Bob Murdoch, Philips’s director of advanced development, explains why they chose it: “The sensor is used to monitor the purity of the oxygen concentrators’ gas output and trigger an alarm if the oxygen purity is too low.

SonicSense technology offers several advantages compared to current sensors: it has a long operating life, enabling concentrators to run for tens’ of thousands of hours; it doesn’t require periodic re-calibration, which would be impractical in patients’ homes; and the low power consumption enables concentrators to operate effectively on battery power.”

The company

TTP make new technology and new products possible by the way they work. They have a commitment to world-class science and engineering and firmly believe it can have a huge impact on the commercial success of their clients.

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