December 7, 2015

The world’s tiniest temperature sensor is powered by radio waves

The tiny sensor on the finger of PhD-student Hao Gao. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke.

(December 7, 2015)  Researchers at TU/e have developed a very tiny wireless temperature sensor that is powered in a very special way: from the radio waves that are part of the sensor’s wireless network. This means that the sensor needs not even a single wire, nor a battery that would have to be replaced. The arrival of such sensors is an important development on route towards smart buildings, for instance. But the applications are many and various.

The smart buildings of the future will be full of sensors that will respond to the residents’ every need, and will be as sustainable as possible. Like heating and lighting that only switches on when someone is in the room. That’s only possible if these sensors are wireless and need no batteries, otherwise in a large building you would have to change the batteries every day. This is  demonstrated by TU/e researcher Hao Gao who will be awarded his PhD on Monday 7 December for his thesis in which he developed a sensor that measures just 2 square millimeters and weights a mere 1.6 milligrams, equivalent to a grain of sand.

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