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Cluster Report Photonics in the Capital Region Berlin-Brandenburg

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  • Brandenburg

5.2.3 Sensors The

5.2.3 Sensors The “sense organs” of technology Harald Pötter, Klaus-Dieter Lang, Maik Hampicke, Gerrit Rössler, Kai Kolwitz What the sensory organs are for humans, sensors and metrology are in technology. Modern electronics would be blind if no sensors would record the states of the environment. With this property, sensors play a key role: whether automation, automotive or medical technology, in all applications sensors ensure correct operation. Therefore, it is no wonder that the market for sensors has been growing steadily for years. A new boom is expected in the area of consumer electronics. The variety of sensors, which can be found now, for example, in smart phones or automobiles, is likely to highlight what can be expected in other areas for the future. Because of the worldwide leading role of Berlin's electric industry in the early 20th century, sensors had a high priority in the region early on. The strong science in Berlin needed special measurement facilities and, with their inventions and discoveries, also spurred the development of measurement techniques and instrumentation; activities which often led to the formation of companies. The broad research community and the large number of young companies today provide the foundation for the success of the region. Almost everything can be measured Virtually any physical principle can be used to measure things. Therefore, measurement and sensor technology cannot be considered in isolation in Berlin-Brandenburg's varied research landscape. In addition to optical methods (section 5.1.3), technologies to measure quantities such as pressure, temperature, or acceleration are important in the industry. Berlin’s and Brandenburg's universities and colleges are active in this field, as are companies and institutions such as the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), the Fraunhofer- Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology (IPK) and the Helmholtz-Center Berlin for Materials and Energy (HZB). Shaft seal ring with integrated sensors © Fraunhofer IZM In another project, developers from the application center on Smart Systems Integration at the Fraunhofer IZM take on the problem of difficult to monitor shaft seal rings. Together with other Fraunhofer colleagues and the Freudenberg Dichtungs- und Schwingungstechnik GmbH & Co. KG., an autonomous sensor system to monitor temperature and sealing function was integrated into the shaft seal ring. The self-powered sensor system continuously checks the function of the seal. In this way, sudden damage and often also the loss of whole plants can be avoided, since failures can be detected early. Leaders and traditional companies The portfolio of sensor technology in Berlin-Brandenburg is very broad. One of the market leaders, First Sensor, is located in Berlin. In addition to optical sensors, First Sensor also offers piezo-resistive pressure sensors. Their portfolio ranges from modular products to development and manufacturing of individually tailored solutions. With a host of projects - as in all of microsystems technology - the Fraunhofer-Institute for Reliability and Micro Integration (IZM) is involved in sensors and measurement technology, usually in association with companies and other research institutions in the region. One of the Fraunhofer IZM projects aims at the control of paper machines. To this end, a network of small, cost-effective sensor nodes is realized, which communicate wirelessly with each other. Besides the IZM, the Technical University of Berlin as well as the companies GfM, ScatterWeb, Elbau, Converteam, Baumer Hübner, and imc Messsysteme are involved. Pressure sensor element © First Sensor AG 92

5.2.3 Sensors Another innovative Berlin-based company has recently joined First Sensor: Elbau, a specialist for sensors measuring pressure, flow, temperature and humidity, gas measurement and magnetic sensors, and opto-electronic modules. Worldwide, First Sensor now has 750 employees in eight locations including Germany, the Netherlands, United States, Canada and Singapore, and is ranked - in 2011 - among the top 100 growth and profit stars, as identified by the Munich Strategy Group (MSG), together with the daily newspaper “Die Welt” in a nationwide, cross-industry competition. Schmidt + Haensch is one of companies with a long-standing tradition in the capital: The company was founded in 1864, it offers technology for polarimetry, refractometry, color meters, dosage meters and densitometers. Another focus is the laboratory automation where topics are filtration, purity analysis, modular systems, analyzers and software. Microphones also are sensors - after all, they react to sound. Since 1919, the Berlin-based company Holmberg offers microphones, transducers, headphones and headsets, for rugged use in aviation, by firefighters and police, and in medical technology and acoustic address systems. Only the imagination sets the limits The applications for measuring and sensor technology will expand rapidly in the future. What would be conceivable, for example, is demonstrated by a project that the Fraunhofer IZM finished jointly with the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei), the Humboldt University Institute for Agricultural and Urban Ecological Projects (Institut für Agrar- und stadtökologische Projekte) and Elbau Elektronik Bauelemente. Under the heading “FishFit”, a sensor system monitors health and mobility of breeding carp. The researchers were able to develop components that can be implanted under the skin. The history of Hach Lange is also closely connected with Berlin. The physicist Dr. Bruno Lange invented the selenium photocell that converts light directly into electricity here, and he used the invention for the construction of photometers for use in hospital laboratories. From the merger of the Berlin Dr. Bruno Lange GmbH and Hach Inc., based in the U.S., Hach Lange resulted, now a world leader in laboratory and on-line water analysis. MSA Auer also originates from a Berlin-based company with a long tradition - the Auer Gesellschaft that produced, through the successor companies until 1992, light bulbs in Berlin. The company is now part of the American MSA Group (Mine Safety Appliances). MSA is a generalist for industrial safety equipment; in terms of sensors they offer, among others, thermal imaging cameras as well as measuring and warning devices for measuring the concentration of oxygen and toxic gases. imc Messsysteme offers hardware and software solutions in the field of physical measurement technology. imc systems measure, for example, pressures, forces, rotation speeds, vibrations, sounds, temperatures, voltages or currents. The technological spectrum ranges from simple data recording via integrated real-time calculations to the integration of models and test bench control. Raytek is a specialist for non-contact temperature measurement in industrial applications. It provides measurement heads, thermometers, sensors, line scanners as well as complete monitoring systems and thermal imaging cameras. Other giants in the industry produce in Berlin and Brandenburg: Pepperl + Fuchs is a specialist for proximity sensors, accelerometers, and ultrasonic sensors and, with image processing and positioning aids, offers a wide range of sensors. And Epcos, part of TDK-EPC manufactures in Berlin and Stahnsdorf. They offer sensors for temperature, level, pressure, and limiting temperature, as well as sensors for engine protection. FishFiT – sensor © Fraunhofer IZM There, the system measures body temperature, blood pressure and other vital data and sends them wirelessly to a receiver on land. Focus is on prolonged reliable functioning in dirt, moisture and cold, and, secondly, on the possibility to wirelessly supply the sensors under water with energy. As one can see, it seems only the imagination can set limits to future applications of sensor technology. And Berlin-Brandenburg is leading with research and commercial exploitation. Contact: Harald Pötter Fraunhofer IZM Phone: 030 / 46403 742 Email: 93

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