World of Sensors

Engineering structures and materials from micro to nano

Sensors science and engineering is relevant to virtually all aspects of life including safety, security, surveillance, monitoring, and awareness in general. Sensors are central to industrial applications being used for process control, monitoring, and safety. Sensors are also central to medicine being used for diagnostics, monitoring, critical care, and public health.

Today’s applications

What is exciting in sensor research and development today? That is a tough question. There are many significant innovations and inventions begin made daily. Micro- and nanotechnology, novel materials, and smaller, smarter, and more effective electronic systems will play an important role in the future of sensors.

To fulfill the promise of ubiquitous sensor systems providing situational awareness at low cost, there must be a demonstrated benefit that is only gained through further miniaturization. For example, new nanowire-based materials that have unique sensing properties can provide higher sensitivity, greater selectivity, and possibly improved stability at a lower cost. Such improvements are necessary to the sensor future.

Future of sensor technology

Sensors can improve the world through diagnostics in medical applications; improved performance of energy sources like fuel cells and batteries and solar power; improved health and safety and security for people; sensors for exploring space and the known university; and improved environmental monitoring.

The seed technologies are now being developed for long-term vision that includes intelligent systems that are self-monitoring, self-correcting and repairing, and self-modifying or morphing not unlike sentient beings. The ability for a system to see (photonic technology), feel (physical measurements), smell (electronic noses), hear (ultrasonics), think/communicate (smart electronics and wireless), and move (sensors integrated with actuators), is progressing rapidly and suggests an exciting future for sensors.